NLEX broke the game wide open in final period with crippling runs to rout defending champion Blackwater Sports, 102-84, on Tuesday in the PBA D-League Foundation Cup at the JCSGO gym in Quezon City.
Kevin Alas and Art Dela Cruz combined for 15 points as the Road Warriors outscored the Elite, 31-15, in the fourth quarter to win the battle of teams applying for membership in the PBA.
Alas finished the game with 12 points while Dela Cruz added 10 points for the Road Warriors.
Coming off a title conquest in the Aspirants Cup, the Road Warriors pulled away with a 22-6 run in the fourth that included a 13-2 start to the quarter to turn the tight contest into a lopsided one.
NLEX was up by just two, 71-69, entering the final period. The Road Warriors were also behind, 44-48, at halftime.
“Masyadong relaxed ’yung mga bata. I told them at halftime, if you are going to give up 48 points, you will not win this game. Probably our defense stepped up in the fourth,” said NLEX coach Boyet Fernandez.
Alas completed a three-point play before feeding Dela Cruz for an alley-oop lay-up for an 80-71 lead. The two sparked the sizzling fourth quarter start for an 84-71 advantage.
Blackwater Sports struggled to get its points in the final period as NLEX’s lead ballooned to 18 points.
“I give credit to all my players. All of them really worked hard. I’m happy that we got this victory against a strong, strong Blackwater team,” said Fernandez.
Frustration mounted for Blackwater Sports and in the fourth, Reil Cervantes was ejected in the game for a flagrant foul two on what appeared to be a punching motion on Ola Adeogun with two minutes left.
Garvo Lanete led NLEX in scoring with 19 points while Jake Pascual tallied 16 markers for the Road Warriors.
It was a disappointing loss for Blackwater Sports, which entered the conference with a lot of promise as it retooled its line-up for the defense of the Foundation Cup crown.
Blackwater, which led by as many as nine points against NLEX in the game, got 15 points from Gilbert Bulawan and Cervantes.
NLEX (102) – Lanete 19, J. Pascual 16, Alas 12, R. Pascual 11, Dela Cruz 10, Adeogun 10, K. Pascual 9, Long 7, Dela Rosa 4, Amer 2, Ganuelas 2, Hermida 0, Koga 0.
Blackwater Sports (84) – Bulawan 15, Cervantes 15, Cruz 11, Mangahas 10, Pinto 8, Trollano 6, Llagas 5, Cruz 3, Ferrer 3, Ciriacruz 3, Austria 3, Manguera 2, Pe 0, Acibar 0.
Quarterscores: 24-26; 44-48; 69-71; 102-84.