The NLEX Road Warriors celebrate after winning the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup over the Big Chill Superchargers. Photo by Nuki Sabio, PBA D-League Images.
MANILA, Philippines - NLEX poured it all out in the second half and turned what had been a tight contest into a runaway victory, fashioning out an 88-70 romp over Big Chill to retain the PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup crown at the Smart Araneta Coliseum yesterday.
Jake Pascual took charge in a big NLEX run in the third period that saw the Road Warriors break away from a close 41-39 edge at the turn and post a whopping 72-52 bulge at the end of the third. It was cruise control from there as NLEX thwarted every Big Chill rally en route to nailing its fifth title in the six conferences via 2-0 sweep of their best-of-three series.
The Road Warriors held off the Superchargers, 79-75, in the series’ opener Sunday.
Their latest title romp also made up for their setback to the Blackwater Elite in the last Foundation Cup that momentarily snapped the Road Warriors’ domination of the fledgling league.
“It was a painful last eight months for us because it’s hard to forget that championship we lost last conference,” said NLEX coach Boyet Fernandez. “But after that defeat, we prepared early and try to learn from our past mistakes.
“Good thing that we found a way to redeem ourselves.”
At the buzzer, the Road Warriors, along with NLEX boss Manny V. Pangilinan, put on their blue championship shirt with printed words “five-time champion” then whooped it up on center court.
Pascual, a member of Gilas cadet team, finished with 17 points and game-highs 15 rebounds and four blocks as he almost singlehandedly carry the Road Warriors in the pivotal third.
For a while, Big Chill appeared ready to drag NLEX into another down-to-the-wire finish with former San Sebastian big man Dexter Maiquez drilling a buzzer-beating triple just before halftime to pull the Superchargers within two, 39-41.
NLEX 88- J. Pascual 17, Adeogun 12, Lanete 10, Dela Cruz 9, Ganueles 8, Alas 8, Dela Rosa 7, R. Pascual 7, K. Pascual 4, Long 3, Hermida 3, Raymundo 0
Big Chill 70- Maiquez 18, Apinan 10, Baloria 9, Heruela 9, Cervantes 5, Mirza 5, Belleza 5, Borndial 5, Lozada 3, Canlas 1, Villahermosa 0, Santos 0, Miranda 0
Quarterscores: 21-22; 41-39; 72-52; 88-70