The NLEX Road Warriors moved on the threshold of a title repeat and perfect record.
The defending champions streaked to their 12th consecutive victory with an 86-71 blowout of Big Chill in the opener of their PBA D-League Foundation Cup titular series on Monday at the Ynares Sports Arena.
Calvin Abueva came off the bench and scored 16 points to show the way the for the Road Warriors, who could clinch their third straight championship and become the first team in the fledgling league to finish a conference without a loss on Thursday.
Game 2 of the best of three series is set at 2 p.m. at the San Juan Arena.
“Our defense was spectacular. The guys executed our game plan to the letter. But we have not accomplished anything yet. We still have to win one more game, ” offered NLEX coach Boyet Fernandez, adding he expects Big Chill to come back strong in Game 2.
What many thought would be an interesting match-up turned out to be a mismatch with the Road Warriors dominating the game in practically all departments.
The Raid Warriors opened a 25-8 advantage after one quarter and shot 48 percent in the first half to stretch the lead to 44-28 at halftime.
The league’s top offense team desperately struggled to score against the hustling defense of the Road Warriors, who did a good job pressuring Big Chill’s ball carriers while staying close with the shooters.
“They are the league’s top offensive team. So we got to do a good job defensively to disrupt their rhythm,” Fernandez said.
Starting center Ian Sanggalang tallied 14 points on 6 of 8 shooting while reserves RR Garcia and Jake Pascual added 12 and 11 respectively for NLEX, which shot 51 percent for the game. Big Chill made just 39 percent of their attempts from the floor.
The Road Warriors also dominated the Superchargers off the boards, 45-27, including a 11-5 edge off the offensive side which explains why Big Chill scored only seven second chance points.
Alex Mallari led all scorers with 28 points. Keith Jensen chipped in 11 points and Mac Montilla contributed 10 for the Superchargers, who visibly lacked the poise and experience to keep up with their skilled opponents.
Big Chill pulled within 54-68 on a basket by Montilla with still 8:15 to play but Eman Monfort knocked in a 3-pointer and Abueva scored six straight markers as the Road Warriors pulled away for good, 81-55, with under three minutes remaining. (DAve Coros)
NLEX 86 – Abueva 16, Sanggalang 14, Garcia 12, Pascual 11, Monfort 8, Co 7, Ellis 6, Long 5, Hodge 5, Hermida 2, Dehesa 0, LAnete 0, Marcelo 0.
Big Chill 71 – Mallari 28, Jensen 11, Montilla 10, Cortes 6, Collado 6, Reyes 4, Villahermosa 3, Ponferada 3, Viernes 0, Tan 0.
Quarters: 25-8, 44-28; 66-49; 86-71