NLEX withstands Big Chill on heroics by Alas, Ganuelas
MANILA, Philippines — Buoyed by the heroics of Kevin Alas and Matt Ganuelas, NLEX withstood a late charge by Big Chill, 79-75, Sunday in game 1 of the PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup finals at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Alas finished 17 points and knocked down five crucial points, while Ganuelas added 13 to bail out the Road Warriors, who wasted a 65-50 edge.
Big Chill, which is seeking its first title, slowly clawed back and pulled within 65-68 on a 3-pointer by Quinton Heruela with still 3:55 left in the game.
But Alas answered with a layup in traffic back-to-back with a transition basket from Matt Ganuelas to push the lead to seven.
Brondial made it a four-point game twice at 68-72 and 70-74 but Alas unleashed a marginal 3-pointer to seal the win with 38 seconds left.
“I told you this will be a tough series. But I’m pleased the guys kept their poise when Big Chill rallied late in the game,” said NLEX coach Boyet Fernandez.
Big Chill’s defense held Garvo Lanete to just four points but the Superchargers found no answer for Alas and Ganuelas, who combined for 14 of the NLEX’s 21 points in the fourth quarter.
“Kevin is already ripe for the PBA. He got us going when Big Chill made run. His 3-point shot late in the game was huge. Matthew also played well. I thought he is starting to play comfortably at the four spot.”
The Road Warriors can wrap up the series and clinch their fifth championship with another victory in Game 2 of the best-of-three series.
The schedule of Game 2 depends on the outcome of Game 5 of the PBA Philippine Cup Finals between San Mig Coffee and Rain or Shine.
Should San Mig Coffee clinch the title Sunday, Game 2 will be on Tuesday at 3 p.m. at The Arena in San Juan. Should Rain or Shine extend the series to a Game 6, the next game of Aspirants’ Cup finals will be held at 4:15 on Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
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