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NLEX, Elite near finals

Looks like NLEX and Blackwater Sports are headed for another title rematch.

The Road Warriors made short work of Hog’s Breath Café in a 99-74 victory while the Elite pulled away in third quarter for a 84-72 blowout win over Big Chill to open their respective semifinal series on Tuesday at the San Juan Arena.

The defending champions set the tone of the lopsided match in the opening quarter with Kevin Alas and Garvo Lanete, who missed their last two games in the eliminations with a shoulder injury, leading the Road Warriors’ sizzling start

NLEX and Blackwater Sports can advance to the finals of the PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup with another victory in Game 2 of the best-of-three series on Thursday.

“It’s always nice to win the first game of a series. But I thought we just caught [Hog’s Breath Café] on their off night. They missed their shots from 3 and they also shoot poorly from the free throw line,” offered NLEX coach Boyet Fernandez, who seeking a fifth championship.

“I’m sure they will be back next game so we got to be ready. This series ain’t over ‘till it’s over,” he added.

The Road Warriors shot 54 percent from the field in the first quarter while holding the Razorbacks to 4 of 18 shooting for a commanding 31-12 advantage after just 10 minutes of play.

NLEX enjoyed its biggest lead at 87-53 and 95-61 in the fourth quarter.

Lanete finished with a game-high 23 points on 7 of 15 shooting. Matthew Ganuelas scored 14 points and pulled down nine rebounds, Alas had 12 and four assists while Jake Pascual contributed 11 and 11 rebounds as NLEX enjoyed a 51-47 edge off the glass.

Hog’s Breath Café defeated NLEX, 83-78 in the eliminations but they didn’t look confident in their rematch against the top-seeded defending champions.

First Game
NLEX 99 – Lanete 23, Ganuelas 14, Alas 12, Pascual J. 11, Dela Rosa 9, Adeogun 8, Pascual R. 8, Hermida 5, Raymundo 4, Pascual K. 4, Long 1, Dela Cruz 0, Koga 0, Amer 0.

Hog’s Breath Café 74 – Publico 13, Ruaya 11, Sanga 10, Allera 9, Gabawan 7, Paniamogan 7, Racal 6, Robles 5, Austria 4, Rios 2, Macasaet 0, Belorio 0, Terso 0.

Quarters: 31-12; 45-26; 71-45; 99-74

Second Game
Blackwater Sports 84 – Cruz 19, Mangahs 15, Ferrer 10, Llagas 10, Austria 10, Bulawsan 9, Ciriacruz 8, Bagatsing 3, Pe 0.

Big Chill 72 – Cervantes 22, Baloria 12, Villahermosa 10, Lozada 10, Mirza 6, Apinan 5, Brondial 3, Canlas 2, Maiquez 2, Heruela 0.

Quarters: 21-23; 47-36; 70-52; 84-72