ANTIPOLO CITY—NLEX staved off a firm challenge from Café France as the Road Warriors defeated the Bakers, 66-60, Tuesday in the PBA D-League Foundation Cup at the Ynares Sports Center.
Cliff Hodge and Calvin Abueva had 15 points in the fourth period as the Road Warriors shrugged the upset-minded Bakers to claim their fourth win and remained on top of the team standings.
NLEX coach Boyet Fernandez said that his wards came off flat following the Holy Week break as Café France stayed within distance all game.
“Maybe it’s because of the long break,” said Fernandez. “They gave us a scare but I credit the defense and the effort of the guys.”
Café France posted a 45-40 lead after three quarters and Jonathan Semira converted a three-pointer early in the fourth for a 49-42 lead. Josan Nimes also hit a running shot for a 51-46 Bakers advantage.
NLEX, however, answered with a 11-0 run to take the lead for good. Hodge tied the game at 51 with a three-point play while Abueva scored a jumper, 57-51, at the end of the run with 4:41 left in the game.
Hodge led NLEX in scoring with 14 points and grabbed 14 rebounds while Abueva, nursing a hamstring injury, had eight points, with six coming in the fourth period, eight rebounds and three blocks.
“I was forced to play Calvin even though he was advised to rest because Café France did well against us,” Fernandez said.
Michael Parala had a team-high 16 points and scored seven straight Café France baskets to slice the deficit to two points, 60-58, but Hodge increased NLEX’s lead with a reverse lay-up with 1:18 in the game.
Jens Knuttel cut NLEX’s lead again to two points but Parala missed a go-ahead three-pointer with 29 seconds in the game. Abueva was fouled sending him to the line and grabbed the offensive board after missing both free throws on his first trip. He made the next charities with 13.6 seconds in the game for a 64-60 lead.
Chris Ellis had 12 points and eight rebounds while Kirk Long and Emman Monfort chipped in eight points.
Café France dipped to 1-3.
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