NLEX takes Game 1 despite slow start
GAME MONDAY (Mall of Asia Arena)
3:30 p.m.—NLEX vs Blackwater Sports
(Game 2, best-of-3 Finals)
MANILA, Philippines –Gambling on a new game plan, NLEX bucked a slow start to clobber Blackwater Sports, 90-77, and move within a win of a perfect championship romp in the PBA D-League Foundation Cup Friday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Ronald Pascual and Art dela Cruz hit the big shots in a decisive breakaway as the Road Warriors climbed out of an early at 4-11 deficit to grab the lead at halftime, 45-40, on the way to a lopsided finish in Game 1 of the best-of-three title series.
After shutting down most of the Elite’s scorers by the second half, the Road Warriors had the game in full control with Kevin Alas, Garvo Lanete and Jake Pascual also helping the five-time champions streak to their 12th straight victory.
“We started flat because of the new game plan, but it worked,” said NLEX coach Boyet Fernandez. “I’m happy the players bought [into] it.”
The Road Warriors, who also had an impressive 13-0 title run in 2012, will go for another perfect finish in Game 2 on Monday at Mall of Asia Arena.
Struggling for most of the conference, Pascual fired 17 points, 12 coming from three-point range, to spark the Road Warriors’ comeback.
“From my first attempt, I felt that it would go in,” said the 6-foot-3 Pascual, the former San Sebastian standout guard. “I got confident from there.”
Dela Cruz, who topscored with 18 points on an impressive 7-of-10 shooting clip, teamed up with Pascual for 19 of the Road Warriors’ 24 points in the second quarter.
NLEX 90–Dela Cruz 18, R. Pascual 17, Alas 11, J. Pascual 11, Lanete 11, Dela Rosa 7, Adeogun 6, Amer 3, Raymundo 2, K. Pascual 2, Ganuelas 2, Long 0.
BLACKWATER SPORTS 77–Cervantes 20, M. Cruz 18, Bulawan 11, Ferrer 11, Ciriacruz 6, Austria 6, Llagas 4, J. Cruz 1, Mangahas 0, Manguera 0, Pinto 0.
Quarters: 21-23, 45-40, 69-56, 90-77