USING another strong finish, defending champion NLEX Road Warrirors returned to familiar territory in the PBA D-League Foundation Cup.
The NLEX Road Warriors scored an 82-72 drubbing of Blackwater Elite yesterday to complete a sweep of their semifinal series and a championship appearance for a third straight conference at the San Juan Gym.
NLEX Road Warriors would have to wait for its finals foe though as Big Chill forced a deciding Game 3 against Cebuana Lhuillier after a convincing 111-70 victory yesterday.
The do-or-die game is slated Thursday at the Ynares Sports Arena.
Firing on all cylinders, the Superchargers jumped out to an early lead and never looked back to tie their series at 1-1.
Alex Mallari finished with 20 points to lead a balanced attack by the Superchargers, who built a 15-point lead after 10 minutes.
The NLEX Road Warriors used an airtight defense to pull away as they held the Elite scoreless in the first six minutes of the final period.
Kirk Long knocked in a crucial triple to give the Road Warriors a 62-58 lead to end the third period and coach Boyet Fernandez said the basket set the tone for his team in their final push.
“Kirk’s triple was the killer,” said Fernandez. “Blackwater pushed us to the limit again. They made us work for our points. We’re just lucky we made big shots in the fourth.”
The Elite looked primed for an upset after taking a 58-57 lead through Paul Zamar’s four-point play. NLEX Road Warrirors regained the lead with a quick 5-0 spurt and never trailed from there.
With their backs against the wall, the Superchargers proved relentless, running at every opportunity and finding their rhythm beyond the arc. The Super Chargers shot 56 percent from the floor while going 14 of 29 from the 3-point range.
“We were so motivated today,” said Big Chill coach Robert Sison. “It all boils down to execution. I’m so pleased with they way they responded.”
BIG CHILL 111—Mallari 20, Tan 14, Montilla 13, Jensen 13, Villahermosa 11, Collado 9, Reyes 9, Viernes 8, Ponferada 7, Cortes 5, Glorioso 2.
C. LHUILLIER 70—Alvarez 11, MAnurel 10, Mangahas 9, Alas 8, Lozada 8, Eximiniano 7, Apinan 7, Hayes 4, Austria 3, Miranda 2, Taha 1, Llagas 0.
Quarters: 31-16, 54-31, 84-55, 111-70
NLEX 82—Abueva 21, Sanggalang 13, Lanete 11, Hermida 10, Ellis 5, Co 5, Marcelo 4, Long 3, Monfort 3, Hodge 3, Pascual 2, Garcia 2.
BLACKWATER 72—Mandani 19, Zamar 17, Celiz 16, NAbong 7, Bringas 5, Jeffries 4, PAscual 2, G. Ciriacruz 2, BAustista 0, Fortuna 0, Camus 0.
Quarters: 23-22, 45-42, 62-58, 82-72