MANILA, Philippines – The NLEX Road Warriors held off a late rally by the Big Chill Superchargers, 79-75, to win Game One of the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup Finals Sunday at the Araneta Coliseum.
Kevin Alas scored 13 of his 17 points in the second half, Ola Adeogun had a double-double of 10 points and 12 rebounds, while Matthew Ganuelas scored 13 points for NLEX.
“I told you this will be a tough series,” NLEX head coach Boyet Fernandez told the league website. “But I’m pleased the guys kept their poise when Big Chill rallied late in the game.”
NLEX led by as much as 15 points, 61-46, early in the fourth quarter thanks to a Ronald Pascual triple.
Big Chill rallied to make it a three-point game, 65-68, with still 3:55 left after Quinton Heruela drilled a three-pointer.
It was Alas who came to the rescue for NLEX, scoring on a difficult lay-up to hike the lead, and Ganuelas also contributed by scoring off a Kazim Mirza turnover.
The Superchargers were able to trim the lead to four points twice, 68-72 and 70-74, but NLEX sealed the win when Alas rifled in a three-pointer that gave them an eight-point lead with still 38 seconds to go.
“Kevin is already ripe for the PBA,” Fernandez said of the former Letran star. “He got us going when Big Chill made their run. His three-point shot late in the game was huge.”
“Matthew also played well. I thought he is starting to play comfortably at the four spot,” he added.
NLEX can wrap up the best-of-three Finals series on Wednesday at the Araneta Coliseum, before Game 6 of the PBA Philippine Cup Finals between San Mig Super Coffee and Rain or Shine.
“We need two wins to clinch the title. This is not over yet,” said Fernandez. “I am sure Big Chill will make some adjustment, so we got to be ready.”
Reil Cervantes top scored for Big Chill with 17 points, while Heruela finished with 12 markers and eight assists.
NLEX star Garvo Lanete finished with only four points, but Alas and Ganuelas more than made up for his subpar performance.
NLEX 79 – Alaska 17, Ganuelas 13, Pascual J. 11, Adeougun 10, Pascual R. 9, Dela Cruz 6, Dela Rosa 4, Lanete 4, Raymundo 3, Long 2, Hermida 0.
Big Chill 75 – Cervantes 17, Heruela 12, Baloria 9, Mirza 9, Brondial 9, Villahermosa 7, Apinan 6, Canlas 3, Maiquez 3, Belleza 0, Santos 0, Lozada 0.
Quarters: 20-8; 41-30; 58-46; 79-75