NLEX checks Banchero, holds off Boracay Rum
MANILA, Philippines – Defending champion NLEX had quite a challenge from Boracay Rum before grinding out an 82-75 win in the PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup Monday at the JCSGO gym in Cubao, Quezon City.
Garvo Lanete set the tone offensively while Kirk Long provided the defensive intensity for the Road Warriors, who blew a commanding lead they built early before finding their form late to hike their record to 3-0.
“We weren’t able to make our open shots in the first few minutes of the third quarter that’s why our defense took a dip,” said NLEX coach Boyet Fernandez. “I’m happy the last two minutes we made stops.”
The Road Warriors raced to a 30-14 lead at the end of the first period behind Lanete’s 13 points built on three triples in that quarter alone before the Waves got into their rhythm in the second half to move to within three, 73-76, on a Jeff Viernes triple with still 1:11 left.
But Boracay Rum, which slid to 2-4, broke down defensively and committed two turnovers in the final 50 seconds of the game leading to easy baskets at the other end that sealed the win for NLEX.
The Waves had 22 miscues that led to 23 turnover points for the Road Warriors.
Despite NLEX’s size advantage, Boracay Rum won the rebounding department, 46-30.
Far Eastern U forward Mark Belo had 18 points and 14 rebounds while Viernes added 11 points – stepping up with chief guard Chris Banchero held to just six points on three-of-nine shooting as he was hounded by Long.
“We limited Banchero to a few points. Good defensive output for us. I’m happy we stopped Banchero.”
Banchero, who also had four turnovers, did have five rebounds and seven assists but just couldn’t get into the flow of things with Long draped all over him at all times.
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