Game one rout: Road Warriors smother Suns
MANILA, Philippines - NLEX uncorked a big second quarter run to trample Cagayan Valley and post a surprisingly easy 87-63 rout as the Road Warriors moved a win away from keeping the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup crown at the Ateneo Blue Eagle gym yesterday.
Reigning NCAA MVP Ian Sangalang came away with 15 points while seven-footer Greg Slaughter returned to add 11 markers as the Road Warriors primed up for another sweep and a fourth straight D-League championship.
Garvo Lanete, Borgie Hermida and Nico Salva tossed in 10 points apiece for NLEX, which goes for the clincher in Game Two of their best-of-three series on Tuesday.
“We played well. We made our shots early and we were able to match their energy. I’m so pleased with the way we played,” said NLEX coach Boyet Fernandez afterwards.
“But this series is not over yet. We still have to wrap it up. Cagayan has so much pride so I’m sure it will come back strong,” he added.
NLEX’s lopsided victory was in stark contrast to its scary 87-85 win over Jose Rizal University in sudden death of their Final Four duel last Tuesday.
The Rising Suns, on the other hand, failed to flash the form they showed in disposing of the second seeded Blackwater Elite, 80-66, in their own side of the semis clash.
For all their aggressiveness and determination, the Rising Suns could only provide a token challenge against their star-studded rivals, who proved to be a match-up nightmare with their bench depth.
Cagayan Valley had no answer for Sanggalang, who also had eight rebounds, two assists, two steals and two blocks in 20 minutes, and Hermida, who also dished off 11 assists for a double-double performance.
“Our mindset is coming into the game is simple. Match their energy and play consistent defense. That’s the way it’s going to be in Game 2,” said Fernandez.
Eliud Poligrates scored 15 points while Joshua Webb and Mark Bringas chipped in 11 apiece for the Rising Suns, who shot a woeful 32 percent (22 of 68) from the field while missing 22 of 38 free throws. Worse, they made 18 turnovers, most of them on bad passes that paved the way for NLEX easy transition baskets.
The Rising Suns trailed by just five, 21-26, after one quarter and were just seven down with under seven minutes left in the second when the Road Warriors went on a 15-8 run to close the period. The 6-8 Slaughter ended the run with two free throws to give NLEX a 49-35 lead at halftime.
Cagayan completely lost its grip in the third quarter that saw its struggle for just five of 23 attempts from the field.
Kirk Long capped NLEX’s third quarter breakaway by knocking a wide open trey that touched off a 13-4 run, giving the Road Warriors a commanding 70-46 bulge going into the fourth.