BLACKWATER Sports ended NLEX’s reign in the PBA D-League, storming back from an 18-point deficit in the third period to win, 80-74, on Tuesday and complete a sweep in the Foundation Cup Finals at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
The Elite are the first team to stop the Road Warriors, who had won all four previous conferences of the developmental league.
Robby Celiz led the Elite in Game Two, scoring 20 points including a putback that averted an NLEX late fightback.
Allan Mangahas and Pari Llagas registered double doubles, the former scoring 13 points and pulling down 12 rebounds and the latter chalking up 11 and 11.
Justin Chua, a former back-up center at Ateneo, also came up huge with 17 points, while Kevin Ferrer chipped in with 12.
Blackwater overhauled a 40-58 deficit early in the third by outscoring the Road Warriors, 20-4, to close out the period.
The momentum was too much to overcome as another 9-0 run early in the fourth put the Elite in firm control.
Blackwater Sports swept the series after coming up with 70-67 victory in Game One.
“Masarap,” said Blackwater coach Leo Isaac on his first D-League crown. “All we had to do was believe in our players, believe in our system and discipline both on offense and defense, on and off the court.”
Blackwater’s zone defense paid off as NLEX struggled from the outside, shooting 35.6 percent including an atrocious 2-of-19 from behind-the-arc.
“We gambled (when we used our zone defense). Lucky for us, walang pumasok na outside shots and it paved the way for our comeback,” Isaac said.
NLEX appeared to be on its way to extending the series into a third and deciding Game Three. But the Road Warriors’ fell silent after posting a 58-40 lead, converting only four field goals the rest of the way.
Celiz scored six points in a Blackwater Sports rally that cut the deficit to 60-62 entering the fourth.
Chua’s jumper gave the lead to the Elite before scoring on a turnaround jumper that made it 69-64.
NLEX tied the game when Salva and Baser Amer hit back-to-back baskets, 72-72, with 2:11 left in the game. But Allan Mangahas drilled a pull-up jumper followed by a Celiz tip-in for a four-point cushion.
The Road Warriors still had a chance when Celiz split his two charities, 74-77. Ronald Pascual, however, missed on a contested three-pointer with 1.2 seconds to play in the fourth.
Blackwater Sports (80) – Celiz 20, Chua 17, A. Mangahas 13, Ferrer 12, Llagas 11, Ciriacru 7, Bagatsing 0, Austria 0.
NLEX (74) – Salva 14, Lanete 12, Slaughter 11, Long 9, Alas 8, Garcia 7, J. Pascual 6, Amer 5, Villarias 2, Ganuelas 0, R. Pascual 0, Camson 0, Taganas 0.
Quarterscores: 21-22; 38-30; 60-62; 80-74.