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NLEX nears crown

Game Monday (Mall of Asia Arena)
3:30 p.m. – NLEX vs Blackwater

NLEX drew one step closer to its sixth PBA D-League championship as it came away with a 90-77 rout over rival Blackwater in the first game of the Foundation Cup finals yesterday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.

The win not only drew the Road Warriors to their sixth overall DLeague title but it also means they are a win away from sweet revenge after the Elite swept them in the finals of the same conference last year.

Ronald Pascual broke out of his shooting slum as he pumped in 14 of his 17 points in the second and third quarter, the quarters wherein the Road Warriors brokeaway for good.

Trailing 30-35 following a Mark Cruz four point play, the Road Warriors banked on the hot shooting hands of Ronald Pascual and Art dela Cruz as the two conspired in a 13-2 run to take control of the game before the end of the second quarter.

In the third, it was all NLEX as the Road Warriors erected a 17 point cushion, 65-48, behind the hot three point shooting of Ronald Pascual, Garvo Lanete and Rome dela Rosa.

“Our game plan will not really materialize if not for my players. I did everything to challenge them, to let them know that we will not win against Blackwater if we will not follow our game plan,” NLEX coach Boyet Fernandez said.

“We started flat probably because of the new game plan but it worked. Thankfully my players bought it and accepted it and we’re hoping we can follow it up,” he added.

Aside from the sweet shooing Pascual, Dela Cruz also stepped up to the plate as he came away with big plays including scoring six points in the latter part of the fourth period wherein NLEX took its biggest lead of the game at 18, 88-70.

The reigning NCAA finals MVP showed why he’s known as a great performer while under pressure as he finished with 18 points on 7-10 shooting.

Aside from the duo, three other players reached double digits for NLEX as Lanete, Kevin Alas and Jake Pascual all chipped in 11 points apiece. Jake Pascual also added 14 boards to his name.

The scores
NLEX 90 – Dela Cruz 18, R. Pascual 17, J. Pascual 11, Alas 11, Lanete 11, dela Rosa 7, Adeogun 6, Amer 3, Ganuelas 2, K. Pascual 2, Raymundo 2, Long 0

BLACKWATER SPORTS 77 – Cervantes 20, M.Cruz 18, Ferrer 11, Bulawan 11, Ciriacruz 6, Austria 6, Llagas 4, J. Cruz 1 Mangahas 0, Manguera 0 ,Pinto 0

Quarters: 21-23; 45-40; 69-56; 90-77