NLEX turned on the heat on defense to trounce cold-shooting Big Chill, 86-71, on Monday in Game One of the PBA D-League Foundation Cup finals at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
The Road Warriors took a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series and can claim their third league crown in as many conferences on Thursday afternoon at the Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan.
The Road Warriors' vaunted defense completely shackled the Superchargers, so much so that the league's top offensive team made just three of 17 field goals in the first half.
“Big Chill is the number one team on offense right now. The only way to win this game is on defense and I credit the boys for their effort,” said NLEX coach Boyet Fernandez.
After NLEX opened a 25-8 lead in the first quarter, the Road Warriors' defense never once let up as the margin didn’t drop below 14 points in the second quarter.
To compound Big Chill's troubles, NLEX also shot well from the floor making 33 of 64 shots. They likewise dominated the boards (45-27) and had more assists (22-14).
Big Chill coach Robert Sison admitted NLEX was the better team.
“To be honest, NLEX really played well. They scouted us really well,” said Sison, making special mention of the difference in rebounding.
“Doon palang, kita mo na ’yung aggressiveness ng NLEX. They were the more aggressive team, they were the better team,” said Sison.
Calvin Abueva had a team-high 16 points while his San Sebastian teammate Ian Sangalang added 14 markers to go along with nine boards for NLEX. RR Garcia added 12 and Jake Pascual 11.
NLEX 86—Abueva 16, Sangalang 14, Garcia 12, Pascual 11, Monfort 8, Co 7, Ellis 6, Long 5, Hodge 5, Hermida 2, Dehesa 0, Lanete 0, Marcelo 0.
Big Chill 71—Mallari 28, Jensen 11, Montilla 10, Cortes 6, Collado 6, Reyes 4, Villahermosa 3, Ponferrada 3, Viernes 0, Tan 0.
Quarterscores: 25-8, 44-28, 66-49, 86-71.