Cliff Hodge and Calvin Abueva spearheaded NLEX’s push in the fourth quarter to lift the Road Warriors to an 86-77 victory over Blackwater Sports to grab the series lead in their PBA D-League Foundation Cup semifinal series last Thursday at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
Hodge scored a game-high 22 points to go along with his eight rebounds and three blocks while Abueva amassed 13 points and 16 boards for NLEX but their heroics in the final period pushed the Road Warriors to a Game 1 victory.
The Road Warriors, who kept their unbeaten slate to nine games this conference, can close out the series in Game 2 set on Tuesday at the San Juan Gym.
But the win didn’t come easy.
“I give credit to Blackwater. They really prepared for us. I think we really want to beat Blackwater right away and we were looking to score all the time, but we didn’t execute and we played bad defense,” said NLEX coach Boyet Fernandez.
Hodge and Abueva combined for 16 points in the fourth quarter as the NLEX finally took command with Blackwater posing a firm challenge in the first three quarters of the game.
Mark Jeffries hit a jumper to grab a 65-62 lead but NLEX’s defense limited Blackwater to only 10 points in the final six minutes of the game that saw 14 leadchanges.
NLEX converted 24 points in that juncture with Hodge and Abueva sparking the closing run with Abueva burying two free throws and a jumper to give the Road Warriors a 68-65 advantage which they kept until the end.