NLEX puts away Big Chill to seize 5th PBA D-League title
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) - They are back on top once again--for the 5th time.
After losing the championship in last year's Foundation Cup, the NLEX Road Warriors are back to their winning ways again as they dispatched the Big Chill Super Chargers in Game 2 of the best-of-3 Finals, 88-70, to end the series and secure the title in the PBA Aspirants Cup.
"I'm just happy we got this redemption. It's really hard to get one championship in the D-League because it's a very tough league," said NLEX head coach Boyet Fernandez.
The Road Warriors, who copped their 5th title in 6 conferences, erupted for 31 points in the third, stunning the Superchargers who couldn't buy a basket and could only muster 13 points.
Jake Pascual led that third period slaughter with 9 of his total 17 points.
By the fourth, Big Chill was evidently already snuffed out as NLEX already built a 20-point bubble that was too much to overcome. The eventual champions simply went on cruise control the rest of the way.
NLEX was unable to shake off Big Chill in the first half owing to a 10-of-25 field goal shooting. However aggression kept them ahead by the end of the first, 20-17, before their third quarter explosion.
As Fernandez yelled along the sidelines for his boys to take their time and box out, his team responded by attacking the boards 57-50.
More than that, NLEX dished out 10 more assists than Big Chill, 22-12. The Road Warriors also had active hands with 5 steals together with 7 blocked shots, while Big Chill had none for both categories.
Garvo Lanete was named Conference Most Valuable Player (MVP). He contributed 10 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists in Game 2.
The cager from San Beda College utilized a major edge he had with his SEA Games experience. He also said he intends to join this year's PBA Draft.
"Malaking tulong sa akin yung sa Gilas, international, iba talaga yung experience dun," he said. (Gilas was a big help for me, international, it's an entirely different experience.)
Lanete also shared another important motivation for him and his teammates.
"Nung natalo kami last conference, the next day wala kami iba inisip kung hindi babawi kami next conference." (When we lost last conference, the next day we thought of nothing else except that we wanted to bounce back this conference.)
Fernandez also readily admitted that the pain of losing to Blackwater last conference haunted them for 8 months.
"Ang plano namin was just to redeem ourselves, medyo masakit samin," he said. "Ngayon natapos na. At least the pain that happened last conference medyo ma-heal naman ng kaunti." (Our plan was just to redeem ourselves, it was a little painful. Now it's over. At least the pain that happened last conference is healed somewhat.”)
NLEX 88: J. Pascual 17, Adeogun, 12, Lanete 10, Dela Cruz 9, Ganuelas 8, Alas 8, Dela Rosa 7, R. Pascual 7, K. Pasual 4, Long 3, Hermida 3, Raymundo 0
Big Chill 70: Maiquez 18, Apinan 10, Baloria 9, Heruela 9, Cervantes 5, Mirza 5, Belleza 5, Brondial 5, Lozada 3, Canlas 1, Villahermosa 0, Santos 0, Miranda 0
Quarter scores: 21-22, 41-39, 72-52, 88-70.