MANILA, Philippines—Defending champion NLEX showed no signs of rust as it cruised past Air21-JRU, 105-85, Tuesday in Game 1 of their best-of-three semifinals series in the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup.
Ian Sangalang scored all but two of his 14 points in the first quarter while Nico Salva had eight of his 17 points in the second period to help the Road Warriors put away the Heavy Bombers early.
“Credit goes to my boys even though we haven’t had practice for the longest time together, they stepped up and played as a team,” said NLEX head coach Boyet Fernandez.
NLEX broke loose from an 8-all count, ending the opening quarter on an 18-5 run to lead 26-13.
The game appeared to be over by halftime where NLEX’s lead ballooned to 27, 51-24.
NLEX hasn’t played for nearly two months but it hardly affected the team that had six players in double-figures with RR Garcia contributing 12 points while Kevin Alas added 11 points.
Greg Slaughter and Eric Camson tallied 10 points apiece.
Making things worse for JRU, Alas drained a long bailout triple near center court to make it, 69-46, with 1:40 left in the third.
The Road Warriors led by as much as 32, 57-25, on a basket by Garcia.
The Bombers went on a mini-run in the final minutes behind John Villarias, who went on a barrage of treys, en route to a 19-point fourth quarter. Villarias ended up with 21 points.
Game 2 is set on Thursday at the same venue.