NLEX leaned on a strong defensive effort in the second half to down Phoenix Super LPG, 94-76, in the PBA Philippine Cup at Don Honorio Ventura State University Gym in Bacolor town, Pampanga on Saturday.
Even without prized guard Kiefer Ravena, the Road Warriors managed to steer past the Fuel Masters, with 4 NLEX players dishing out double-digit scoring outputs on their way to a third straight win.
Jericho Cruz led the way with 19 points, 7 assists and 4 steals.
Raul Soyud finished with 17 points, while JR Quiñahan and Kevin Alas scored 14 and 11, respectively.
NLEX coach Yeng Guiao said the key to beating Phoenix was to keep the Fuel Masters' main men Matthew Wright and Vic Manuel in check.
"Our defensive intensity. It's our desire to win, the challenge being posed to us also of playing without Kiefer," Guiao said.
"We have to start defining ourselves without Kiefer from hereon. Siguro nakaka-motivate din sa amin iyon."
Wright struggled from the field on Saturday, settling for 10 points. Manuel added 13, while Jason Perkins and Chris Banchero each had 12.
They, however, could not offset NLEX's more balanced scoring.
NLEX improved its record to 4-2, while dealing the Fuel Masters their fifth defeat in seven games.
NLEX 94 - Cruz 19, Soyud 17, Quinahan 14, Alas 11, Trollano 9, Oftana 8, Miranda 5, Paniamogan 5, Porter 4, Ighalo 2, Ayonayon 0, McAloney 0, Semerad 0, Galanza 0.
Phoenix 76 - Manuel 13, Perkins 12, Banchero 12, Wright 10, Jazul 8, Melecio 5, Demusis 5, Chua 4, Garcia 3, Calisaan 2, Pascual 2, Faundo 0, Muyang 0, Napoles 0, Rios 0.
Quarters:22-25, 45-45, 72-62, 94-76