NLEX finds itself back in a very familiar territory - the PBA D-League Finals.
The Road Warriors completed a sweep of the Big Chill Superchargers Thursday night, hacking out an 80-71 win in Game Two of their semis series to march to the championship round for a record fifth straight time.
The reigning, four-time defending champions used a crippling 10-0 blast in the third quarter to put the Superchargers away for good and earn a shot at winning their fifth consecutive crown.
NLEX will now face the winner of the other semis pairing between Boracay Rum and Blackwater Sports. The Waves forced a do-or-die Game three against the Elite to be played on Tuesday also at the Blue Eagle gym.
Once more, NLEX coach Boyet Fernandez credited the Road Warriors’ defense as the key in sweeping the series.
“We made stops, we score,” said the winning coach. “They are forcing their shots and we score. Whoever makes stops will win this series and that’s what we did.”
Big Chill’s Terrence Romeo was the biggest victim of the Road Warriors’ defense. Although the hotshot guard out of Far Eastern University finished with a game-high 25 points, Romeo shot only 9-of-25 from the field.
Kirk Long had 12 points, while Kevin Alas added 10 for NLEX.
Big man Greg Slaughter had six of his eight points for the Road Warriors in the pivotal third, while Jake Pascual finished with only two points but was huge off the boards with 10 rebounds.
Janus Lozada added 13 points even as Jeckster Apinan also had 13 and 20 rebounds in a losing cause for Big Chill, which ended its campaign on a rather disappointing note after remarkably overcoming the twice-to-beat quarterfinals advantage of Fruitas in the quarters.
The Road Warriors were protecting a slim 43-40 when they racked up 10 unanswered points, capped by two Slaughter free throws to hike the lead to 53-40.
They stretched it to as much as 61-47 in the final quarter when Long and Alas combined in a 7-0 run.
NLEX (80) - Long 12, Alas 10, Camson 9, Slaughter 8, Salva 8, Garcia 8, Villarias 7, Hermida 7, R. Pascual 4, Lanete 3, Ganuelas 2, J. Pascual 2.
Big Chill (71) - Romeo 25, Lozada 13, Apinan 13, Montilla 9, Villahermosa 6, Heruela 3, Bringas 2, Bonifacio 0, Holstein 0, Canlas 0, Dumapig 0, Santos 0.
Quarterscores: 18-14; 34-29; 55-47; 80-71.