RR Garcia topscored for the Road Warriors with 15 points, including eight in the fourth quarter to help the defending champions to hold off a desperate charge by the Gems.
Ian Sangalang and Eric Camson scored a bucket each; Garcia nailed a long two, then an undergoal stab from Kevin Alas steered NLEX out of harm’s way.
“We really wanted to win this game. I glad the guys responded well. This win fortifies our number one seeding,” said head coach Boyet Fernandez, whose squad improved to 9-1.
Fernandez knows he will not have the easiest time next year, as the Road Warriors are set to lend nine players to Philippine Team that will compete in tournaments in January.
The Gems, meanwhile, dropped to 3-4 after they failed to mount a decisive run in the fourth even after staying within striking distance all game.
Gab Banal scored all of his six points in a run that trimmed NLEX’s lead down to 77-73 with five minutes to go, but he hardly had help the entire quarter.
Raymond Aguilar and Jopher Custodio — the only two of three players who scored in the fourth — finished with 17 and 13 points, respectively for Cebuana Lhuillier.