NLEX continued its iron-fisted rule in the PBA D-League when it beat Cagayan Valley, 82-71, to sweep the Aspirants Cup championship series on Tuesday at The Arena in San Juan.
The Road Warriors built a big lead early and held off the overmatched Rising Suns the rest of the way to capture their fourth straight title in as many conferences of the fledging league via sweep of the best-of-three series.
Garvo Lanete finished the game with 17 points, including 13 in the first half in another emphatic performance before a crowd that included NLEX chairman Manny V. Pangilinan.
“I’m happy that they finished this,” said NLEX coach Boyet Fernandez. “I’m just lucky to have a very supportive management at NLEX.
"The players really stepped up, they wanted to finish it para makapahinga na.”
On the way to the title, the Road Warriors lost just a game in the eliminations after a 24-game winning streak that extended to the previous conference but struggled to dispose of Air21-Jose Rizal University in the semifinals.
Nevertheless, the Road Warriors were back to their dominant selves in the games that mattered, winning the championship series by an average margin of 17.5 points a game.
Cagayan Valley head coach Alvin Pua was ejected midway in the second quarter for a contact with a referee.
“It was a big factor in terms of energy because nagbago ang timpla, bumaba ang energy namin noong pumasok sa dugout. I even scolded them,” Fernandez said.
After the halftime pep talk, the Road Warriors regained their form in the second half, not allowing the Rising Suns to come closer than eight points.
Borgie Hermida stepped up for NLEX once again in the second half. After a 10-point, 11-assist output in Game One, the former San Beda Red Lion chipped in eight of his 10 points in the fourth canto while dishing out six assists.
Greg Slaugher and the conference’s best player Ian Sangalang each had nine points while Jake Pascual had eight points and grabbed 13 rebounds. Kirk Long had eight points and six steals.
Eliud Poligrates had a game-high 21 points, while Mark Bringas added 13 points. Adrian Celada chipped in 12 markers for the Rising Suns.
NLEX (82) – Lanete 17, Hermida 10, Slaughter 9, Sangalang 9, J. Pascual 8, Long 8, R. Pascual 8, Alas 4, Camson 4, Garcia 3, Salva 2, Amer 0.
Cagayan Valley (71) – Poligrates 21, Bringas 13, Celada 12, Lao 6, Almazan 5, Webb 4, Forrester 4, Exciminiano 4, Cruz 2, Melano 0, Montemayor 0.
Quarterscores: 24-10; 45-32; 61-50; 82-71.