NLEX rallies to stun Xinjiang, advances to Super 8 semis
MACAU—NLEX came back from 17 down and stunned Xinjiang Guangui, 88-78, in the do-or-die game to end of the group stage of the Asia League Super 8 Thursday at Macau East Asian Games Dome.
The Road Warriors finished the preliminaries with a 2-1 record, good for second place in Group A, and advanced to the semifinals at the expense of the 1-2 Flying Tigers.
Thing looked bleak for NLEX in the second quarter when the Flying Tigers mounted a 45-28 lead after Wang Zirui’s layup near the end of the period.
The second half proved to be a Godsend for the Road Warriors as they quickly made up for the deficit with a 22-4 run to take a 55-53 lead off of Emman Monfort’s jumper with 3:17 left in the third.
“The boys just played with a lot of heart and even if this is a side tournament, even if it’s a minor tournament, I felt like I have a newfound respect for the guys,” said NLEX head coach Yeng Guiao.
“They played their hearts out and they put in the effort, and one thing that makes me happy we made our Filipino fans here in Macau happy. That’s the biggest takeaway of the game.”
NLEX pushed the tempo further in the fourth building an 80-69 lead after Mac Tallo’s layup capped a 9-1 run with 3:40 left in the game.
JR Quiñahan was the high-point man for the Road Warriors with 18 points while Kenneth Ighalo had 17 points.
Tallo filled the box scores with 12 points, six rebounds, and eight assists.
Sun Tonglin had 16 points to lead the Flying Tigers while Liu Yunan had 13 points and six rebounds.