ARE the NLEX Road Warriors ready for life likely without prized center JP Erram? Well, they got the job done anew yesterday.
Boosted by a fast start and a sustained charge, NLEX ripped Alaska 109-84 for its second straight win in the Phoenix Super Basketball Tourney at the Upper Deck Sports Center in Pasig.
Burly 6-foot-6 big man Raul Soyud wound up with 22 points and eight rebounds for the Road Warriors, while guard Kevin Alas chipped in 18 and three.
Bong Galanza and rookie draft pick William Mcaloney also had 11 and 10 points, respectively for NLEX, which hiked its record to 2-0 in the four-team pocket tourney organized by Phoenix.
The Road Warriors came off a 103-97 victory over defending five-time Philippine Cup champion San Miguel Beer last Monday while the Aces failed to score a follow-up to their 98-87 triumph over the Fuel Masters also last Monday.
The 6-foot-8 Erram was shipped back by NLEX to TNT last Monday in a complicated three-team trade.
The KaTropa dealt lanky 6-foot-6 center Marion Magat to Blackwater along with a first-round draft pick in exchange for a first-round pick.
The Elite gave up two future picks in a package that also saw forward Anthony Semerad going to the Road Warriors for Erram.
Blackwater completed the swap by trading Erram to TNT in exchange for playmaker Ed Daquioag and a first-round pick.
While the trade papers have been sent to Commissioner Willie Marcial for approval, the league’s trade committee reportedly wants the teams to modify the trade.
Only additional picks, however, will be included in the new trade proposal as Erram is still headed back to the KaTropa.
In the other tune-up game, Phoenix dismantled defending SMB 108-90.
Gunner Matthew Wright scattered 19 points on , two rebounds, three assists, and two steals, while 6-foot-4 forward Jason Perkins added 17 markers and four caroms.
Justin Chua, veteran big man Jay-R Reyes, and Jorey Napoles also had 15, 13, and 11 points, respectively as the Fuel Masters redeemed themselves from their 87-98 defeat to Alaska last Monday.
Erram showed up in NLEX’s match but did not play.
“Of course, we (Erram) consider him as part of the team until may final na doon sa trade but we’re just trying to relish our last few days together. Talagang pumupunta siya sa practice, talagang gusto niya pa rin talagang makasama iyong teammates niya even though he knows there’s a pending development but he comes to practice and he didn’t miss anything even itong game hindi niya alam kung maglalaro siya o hindi pero dumating pa rin siya,” said Road Warriors coach Yeng Guiao.
“Siguro, just to set the record straight wala kaming pinag-awayan ni Poy you can ask him, if he’s happy here or he’s not but we are happy with him I think he’s happy with us so that’s not the reason for the trade,” he added.
NLEX led by as much as 43-24 on a Papot Paredes jumper with 5:40 left in the second quarter and took a 49-35 spread at the half.
The Road Warriors still enjoyed a 76-64 advantage going into the payoff period and were never threatened from there.
Forward Vic Manuel paced Alaska with 28 points, while Mike DiGregorio and Abu Tratter added 15 and 11, respectively.
The Fuel Masters held a 41-39 cushion at the break and pulled away via a 15-2 binge capped by an RJ Jazul free throw with 6.0 seconds to go in the third quarter that turned a 60-58 affair into a 75-60 bubble.
Phoenix led by as much as 102-77 on a Perkins trey at the 5:06 mark of the fourth period.
Arwind Santos carried the fight for SMB with 17 points, while Chris Ross and Paul Zamar contributed 14 and 10, respectively.