NLEX completes perfect title runBy Jasmine W. Payo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
A perfect finish to a perfect run.
Strong on both ends, NLEX blasted a Big Chill squad that went cold in the second half, 82-62, yesterday and the Road Warriors completed a historic
13-0 tournament sweep to capture a third straight championship in the PBA D-League Foundation Cup.
“This team really deserves to win, they sacrificed a lot in practice,” said NLEX coach Boyet Fernandez as the Road Warriors kicked off a familiar celebration at the end of the conference.
With a lineup loaded with amateur and collegiate stars, virtually everyone in the NLEX crew still had a moment to shine in Game 2 of the best-of-three series at the Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan.
Emman Monfort paced the Road Warriors’ balanced charge with 13 points on top of seven rebounds, seven assists and two steals.
But unlike Game 1 where the Road Warriors opened with an early double-digit lead on the way to an 86-71 triumph, the Superchargers kept it close the entire first half behind Raffy Reyes.
An explosive NLEX side, however, came out after the break as Monfort sparked a 16-8 run with five straight points that helped the Road Warriors take a double-digit lead, 52-38, for the first time in the game.
“Credit to Big Chill, they really planned everything and they’re a solid team,” said Fernandez. “Every game, we always try to limit our opponents to just 15 points per quarter. But they had 20 in the first. We just stepped up on defense in the end.”
The Superchargers made one last push by trimming the deficit to a manageable nine points, 57-48, early in the fourth period.
But the Road Warriors responded with a 16-3 outburst, book-ended by back-to-back triples from Monfort and Woody Co and another pair of three-pointers from Calvin Abueva and Kirk Long for a huge 73-51 gap.
Ian Sangalang buried 11 points, while Long collected 10 markers, seven boards and four assists.
Abueva and Garvo Lanete chipped in 10 points each and Best Player of the Conference Cliff Hodge also delivered with eight markers, six rebounds, a couple of assists and three blocks.
“These are the future stars of the PBA,” said Fernandez. “This is one for the books and the players really worked hard for it.”
Hodge joined teammate RR Garcia in the Season Mythical Five along with Big Chill’s Alex Mallari, Cebuana Lhuillier’s Vic Manuel and Lester Alvarez.
“We challenged Cliff to step up,” said Fernandez. “The way he played everyday, we really saw his improvement. But his MVP title this conference also came with the support of his teammates. It’s the product of practice. He doesn’t want to lose.”
NLEX 82—Monfort 13, Sangalang 11, Long 10, Lanete 10, Abueva 10, Hodge 8, Garcia 7, Pascual 6, Co 4, Marcelo 3, Hermida 0, Suguitan 0, Ellis 0, Dehesa 0.
BIG CHILL 62—Reyes 19, Jensen 15, Montilla 10, Mallari 6, Ponferrada 4, Viernes 2, Collado 2, Villahermosa 2, Tan 2, Cortes 0.
Quarters: 18-20, 36-30, 55-45, 82-62