NLEX wins D-League
The NLEX Road Warriors became the inaugural champions of the PBA D-League Foundation Cup after they swept the Cebuana Lhuillier Gems, 61 to 59 in their Best-of-Three tilt.
The Road Warriors, bannered by a bunch of ex-pros and the nucleus of the San Sebastian NCAA squad, are the Meralco Bolts’ affiliate. NLEX coach Boyet Fernandez, who once cashed a title with the defunct Sta. Lucia Realtors, executed a play they always do during practice and it proved seriously effective. Ronald Pascual scored when they needed the most to avoid overtime against the dangerous Gems squad helmed by Alaska assistant coach Luigi Trillo. Kevin Alas, made an emphatic play to tie the count at 59 and Fernandez quickly called a timeout. Fernandez called the play off a perfect inbound pass to Pascual from Pamboy Raymundo.
Calvin Abueva topscored with 18 points, Pascual had 10, Chris Ellis had 9, and Raymundo and Cliff Hodge each scored 7 points for the Road Warriors. Hyram Bagatsing scored 13 points, Marvin Hayes had 10, Alas had 9, Allein Maliksi had 8, and AJ Mandani had five for the Gems.
With this win, I expect a boost on Abueva and Fil-Am Chris Ellis’ draft stock as well as the possible return of Ogie Menor to the main squad.
For the Gems, this campaign will be good for Allein Maliksi and hopefully this could boost the PBA return of James Sena, Vaughn Canta, and Benedict Fernandez. Marvin Hayes and Pari Llagas were left unsigned at the start of the PBA Season but with their D-League showing, this could be a chance for them to gain a roster spot in any team.