NLEX clinches No. 1 berth

Blackwater boosts s’final bid

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KIRK Long of NLEX tries to grab possession and instead fouls Clark Bautista of Cebuana Lhuillier in yesterday’s game. AUGUST DELA CRUZ

NLEX sealed the No. 1 spot even as Blackwater Sports boosted its own bid for the last outright semifinals berth in the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup Thursday.

The Road Warriors fended off Cebuana Lhuillier’s late comeback to hack out an 89-76 victory and secure an outright semifinal stint with a 9-1 record at the end of their elimination schedule at Ynares Sports Arena.

RR Garcia pumped in eight of his 15 points in the final quarter to help the Road Warriors pull away at 85-73 going into the last two minutes after the Gems had closed within a point, 65-66.

Earlier, Jeric Fortuna fueled Blackwater’s strong start as the Elite cruised past Café France, 81-60, to grab a share of second at 5-2.

Fortuna drilled all but two of his 13 points in the first quarter for the Elite, who led by as many as 29 points, 69-40, against a Café France side that shocked NLEX just last week.

Only the top two teams at the end of the eliminations will gain outright entry to the semifinals, while the next four battle in the quarterfinal round.

NLEX needed to wrap up its elimination campaign early since virtually the entire team will join the Smart Gilas cadet pool set to compete in Dubai and Hong Kong in January.

“Nine of them are joining Gilas, so I’m just happy we won this ballgame,” said NLEX coach Boyet Fernandez.

The scores:

First Game

BLACKWATER SPORTS 81—Fortuna 13, Ferrer 11, Ciriacruz G. 10, Chua 8, Celiz 8, Bagatsing 6, Mangahas 5, Ciriacruz I. 5, Abdul 4, Llagas 4, Vigil 3, Lo 2, Pe 2, Mazo 0.

CAFÉ FRANCE 60—Pogoy 11, Mendoza 7, Alas 6, Lopez 6, Knuttel 6, Magat 6, Padilla 5, Jamon 4, Parala 4, Magbitang 3, Dela Cruz 2, Batino 0, Antipuesto 0.

Quarters: 24-10, 46-21, 65-40, 81-60

Second Game

NLEX 89—Garcia 15, Lanete 14, Sangalang 10, Slaughter 9, Pascual J. 7, Long 7, Salva 6, Alas 6, Pascual R. 5, Camson 5, Amer 3, Ganuelas 2, Hermida 0.

CEBUANA LHUILLIER 76—Aguilar 17, Custodio 13, Dizon 12, Sanga 8, Zamar 7, Banal 6, Buensuceso 5, Mangahas 3, Bautista 3, Sarangay 2, Rowe 0, Tagarda 0, Suguitan 0.

Quarters: 23-20, 48-42, 66-62, 89-76

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