NLEX stays perfect, earns sixth D-League title at Blackwaters’ expense; Alas named MVP
Ronald Pascual and Jake Pascual combined for 13 points in the fourth period as the NLEX Road Warriors captured its sixth PBA D-League championship with an 81-78 victory over Blackwater Sports on Monday for a sweep of the Foundation Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Pascuals scored eight unanswered points in the final quarter to seize control of game two. The Road Warriors completed a 13-game sweep of the conference for a fitting send-off before they enter the PBA for the pro league's 40th season.
The Road Warriors wrapped up the best-of-three title series, 2-0.
Jake Pascual top-scored for NLEX with 15 points, Ola Adeogun added 14 markers to go with 14 rebounds, and Ronald Pascual scored 13 on 2-of-3 shooting from three-point range for NLEX, which avenged its defeat to Blackwater Sports in last year’s title series of this same conference.
NLEX swept the entire tournament for the second time after pulling off the same feat in the 2012 Foundation Cup. The Road Warriors fell a year later as they were swept by the Elite in the Finals to break a string of four straight championships.
The Road Warriors then bounced back by bagging the title earlier this year during the season-opening Aspirants Cup when they beat the Big Chill Superchargers.
But the multi-titled franchise certainly cherishes this title even more.
“This is much sweeter. When I said last conference that it was redemption, this is the real redemption due to the fact that we swept Blackwater,” said NLEX coach Boyet Fernandez.
NLEX turned a 67-65 deficit into a 73-67 lead with Jake Pascual scoring a three-point play and Ronald Pascual nailing a deep triple from the right wing with 6:38 left in the game.
Reil Cervantes scored a jumper with 1:58 to go to cut the deficit to two, but Jake Pascual converted a scoop shot to hike the lead back to four points.
Cervantes had a game-high 31 points on 10-of-25 shooting from the field but missed a potential go-ahead three-pointer in the waning seconds of game two.
Kevin Alas, adjudged as the conference MVP earlier, sealed the win and the title by splitting his two free throws with 0.8 seconds left.
The Elite lost after the Road Warriors held the largest lead of the ballgame, 40-28, powered by an 11-0 run, but recovered to take a 53-47 edge in the third period that set up the tight contest.
Alas took home the MVP trophy after earning 29.9 statistical points, beating Cervantes and Jason Ballesteros of the Jumbo Plastic Linoleum Giants.
The former Letran standout joined the ranks of NLEX players who have won the top individual award in the developmental league. Garvo Lanete captured the individual plum in the Aspirants Cup while another current teammate Jake Pascual claimed the same trophy in last year’s Foundation Cup. - Reuben Terrado, SPIN
NLEX 81 - J. Pascual 15, Adeogun 14, Raymundo 13, R. Pascual 13, Lanete 12, Dela Rosa 5, Alas 3, Dela Cruz 2, K. Pascual 2, Ganuelas 2, Long 0
Blackwater Sports 78 - Cervantes 31, Ferrer 20, J. Cruz 9, M. Cruz 5, Mangahas 3, Llagas 3, Pinto 3, Bulawan 2, Austria 2, Ciriacruz 0, Pe 0, Trollano 0, Soyud 0
Quarter scoring: 27-20, 42-38, 62-62, 81-78