|Perfect ending for NLEX title trip|
The NLEX Road Warriors showed why they are the gold standard for excellence in the PBA Developmental League.
Behind Eman Monfort’s steady leadership, the Road Warriors repeated as Foundation Cup champions following their 82-62 romp over Big Chill on Thursday in Game Two of their titular series at the San Juan Arena.
And they clinched their third straight championship with a dash of history.
In a fitting end to their latest success, the Road Warrior wound up their stint with a 13-0 mark to become the first team in the fledgling league to finish the conference with a perfect record.
“This is unbelievable. I never really thought we could do this,” said a visibly overwhelmed NLEX coach Boyet Fernandez. “Modesty aside, the players deserve it. They sacrificed a lot to achieved our goal. And of course, big part of our success goes to management. Without their support this wouldn’t be possible.”
Monfort, the smallest among the Road Warriorts, led the NLEX squad with a game-high 13 points. He also had seven assists and two steals, and steadied the team when the Superchargers tried to get back in the game.
“He may be small but he does the big things for the team. He made the big plays and the big baskets when we need it. He's the leader of this team and he's showing it by example,” Fernandez of his star playmaker.
In game that featured poor shooting from both teams, the Road Warriors once again capitalized on their defense to seize control.
Big Chill had a two-point edge after the first quarter and held a 26-23 lead with 5:39 to play in the second quarter when NLEX went on 13-4 run. Garbo Lanete (10 points) ended that spurt with a fallaway shot over Jewel Ponferada to give the Road Warriors a 36-30 lead at halftime. They never trailed after that.
The Road Warriors, who shot just 38 percent from the field, also got 11 points from center Ian Sanggalang, and 10 point apiece from Kirk Long, Calvin Abueva and Lanete.
The Superchargers, who were making their first finals appearance, managed to keep things close in the first 15 minutes but the lack of experience and talent took its toll when push came to shove.
Raffy Reyes finished with 19 points for Big Chill. Keith Jensen contributed 15 points while Mac Montilla had 10.
Alex Mallari, who poured 28 points in Game 1, was a big disappointment in a game where his offensive power was needed most. But surprisingly, he made just nine attempts and tallied six insignificant points.
Although they continued to struggle offensively, the Superchargers refused to wilt. A three-point play by Montilla pulled the them to within 48-57 with still eight minutes to play.
It turned out to be their last stand though. Woody Co, Monfort, Abueva and Kirk Long each drilled a 3-pointer during a 14-3 blast as the Road Warriors all but sealed the win, 73-51, with three minutes remaining. (Dave Coros)
NLEX 82 – Monfort 13, Sanggalang 11, Long 10, Lanete 10, Abueva 10, Hodge 8, Garcia 7, Pascual 6, Co 4, Marcelo 3, Hermida 0, Suguitan 0, Dehesa 0, Ellis 0.
Big Chill 62 – Reyes 19, Jensen 15, Montilla 10, Mallari 6, Ponferada 4, Viernes 2, Collado 2, Villahermosa 2, Tan 2, Cortes 0.
Quarters: 18-20; 36-30; 55-45; 82-62
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