NLEX showed why it is the standard by which all other PBA D-League teams are measured, humbling the Big Chill Superchargers, 91-67, on Thursday for their sixth straight win in the Aspirants Cup at the Ynares Sports Arena.
The Road Warriors rose to the occasion and showed their defensive might against one of the top teams in the league, claiming their 23rd straight win and moving closer to one of the two outright semifinal slots.
NLEX coach Boyet Fernandez was quick to give the credit to NLEX’s intensity on defense against Big Chill, which only made 20 of their 61 shots from the field while committing 16 turnovers.
“They really committed to play defense today,” said Fernandez. “Big Chill is a very good offensive team… But I give credit to the guys for playing defense. We made stops, we scored. That’s the only thing we did.”
Big Chill, which used NLEX as its yardstick to build its team for the conference, was so outplayed it failed to keep up as early as the second period.
In contrast, the Road Warriors collectively stepped up in the absence of Greg Slaughter, Nico Salva and Oping Sumalinog, who missed the game due to their commitment with Ateneo in the Philippine Collegiate Champions League final.
Ian Sangalang had 20 points while Jake Pascual had 13 points and 10 rebounds to lead the charge for NLEX, which already had a 32-16 lead in the second period.
NLEX’s lead ballooned to 46-29 at the end of the first half on a Borgie Hermida buzzer-beater. The biggest lead was 29 points on a three-point play by Pascual with less than six minutes to play in the game.
Eric Camson had 12 points while Hermida tallied 11 markers for the Road Warriors.
Big Chill suffered its first setback in five games but is now tied in second place with the Cagayan Valley Rising Suns.
NLEX (91) – Sangalang 20, J. Pascual 13, Camson 12, Hermida 11, Long 9, R. Pascual 9, Lanete 8, Garcia 5, Ganuelas 2, Alas 2, Escoto 0, Amer 0.
Big Chill (67) – Romeo 19, Montilla 15, Collado 11, Bringas 8, Canta 4, Lozada 4, Montecastro 2, Villahermosa 2, Santos 2, Brondial 0, Canlas 0, Cortes 0.
Quarterscores: 20-12, 46-29, 72-45, 91-67.