NLEX still perfect; Café France hangs onBy Jasmine W. Payo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
NLEX felt out of sync but the defending champion still rolled past Blackwater Sports, 60-45, to move within a win of an elimination sweep of the PBA D-League Foundation Cup yesterday at the Ynares Sports Arena.
The Road Warriors pulled away in the second quarter as the Elite, who sorely missed their suspended star Kelly Nabong, scored only five points on an atrocious 1-of-14 shooting clip in the period.
“We didn’t play well today, we didn’t execute our offensive pattern the way we should,” said NLEX coach Boyet Fernandez. “Blackwater just lost Nabong that’s why they didn’t play well.”
The Road Warriors, already assured of an outright semifinal stint, stretched their perfect run to eight games with Garvo Lanete leading with 14 points.
In the second match, Café France kept its quarterfinal bid alive after surviving the Cagayan Rising Suns’ second-half rally, 88-80.
Kevin Racal pumped in 19 points and Jason Deutchman also came through with 13 markers, 10 rebounds and a couple of blocks to lead the Bakers to a 3-4 record.
Playing their worst game of the conference, the Elite couldn’t recover from their poor second-quarter showing and fell to fourth place at 4-3.
The loss also dimmed the Elite’s chance of securing the last outright semifinal slot.
Nabong, the Filipino-American big man who averages 15.3 points, served a one-game suspension for elbowing Cebuana Lhuillier’s Kevin Alas in a recent game.
His absence proved to be a lucky break for the Road Warriors, who led by as many as 20 points, 60-40, late in the game.
“We really had a bad game even though we won, so I need to wake up my boys,” said Fernandez, two weeks before the Road Warriors vie for a historic elimination sweep against Boracay Rum.
The Rising Suns, one of two newcomers this conference, remained winless in eight outings.
NLEX 60–Lanete 14, Abueva 12, Ellis 11, Arao 6, Long 5, Sangalang 4, Hodge 4, Hermida 2, Marcelo 2, Suguitan 0, Belencion 0, Dehesa 0, Monfort 0, Co 0.
BLACKWATER SPORTS 45–Fortuna 9, Ciriacruz 8, Zamar 7, Jeffries 7, Pascual 5, Mandani 5, Afuang 2, Celiz 2, Montemayor 0, Bautista 0, Ciriacruz I. 0, Camus 0.
Quarters: 11-11, 32-16, 45-30, 60-45
CAFÉ FRANCE 88—Racal 19, Deutchman 13, Knuttel 10, Nimes 9, Mabayo 9, Magat 8, Semira 7, Parala 6, Garcia 5, Magbitang 2, Gallardo 0, Alquisalas 0.
CAGAYAN 80—Custodio 32, Agas 17, Macuha 7, Lapuz 6, Bulangis 6, Melano 5, Arce 5, Eman 2, Gatchalian 0, Lascano 0, Dela Cruz 0, Aggarao 0, Calabung 0.
Quarters: 17-15, 45-31, 63-60, 88-80