The NLEX Road Warriors remained unbeaten in the tournament by stopping the Cagayan Rising Suns, 84-53, to move two wins shy of a sweep of the elimination round in the PBA D-League Foundation Cup at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.
Finding itself tied with winless Cagayan early in the first quarter, NLEX head coach Boyet Fernandez sued for a timeout and let his team know he was furious about their effort.
After the timeout, the Road Warriors were back to their usual form.
NLEX broke a 6-6 deadlock with a 14-0 run that spanned midway in the first quarter until early in the second and the outcome was never in doubt after that.
The Road Warriors improved to 7-0 and are on the cusp of an elimination round sweep with games against Blackwater Sports and Boracay Rum in their next outings.
“Right now, with this win, it gives us a chance for at least a playoff in the top two. We are already preparing for Blackwater because we only have a short rest before we play against them,” said Boyet Fernandez, the NLEX head coach.
Fernandez, however, was thrown out in the final period when he was slapped with his second technical foul for continuous complaining. He argued about a physical foul to Emman Monfort that nearly caused an injury — one of several inconsistencies he pointed out about officiating in the fourth period.
“I’m already preparing for our next game and I’m just protecting my players,” Fernandez explained. “That’s why I was really pissed off at the officiating. You just have to call it in a proper way.”
Cliff Hodge finished with 16 points, Monfort had 15, Chris Ellis added 11 and Ford Arao had 10 for the Road Warriors, who grabbed the win despite the absence of Calvin Abueva and Ian Sangalang due to their priorities with their school team.
Cagayan, which got 17 points and 13 rebounds from Junar Arce, dropped to 0-7.
In the first game, Café France ended its three-game losing skid when it defeated Junior Powerade, 81-66.
The Bakers improved to 2-4 as they continue to stay in contention for one of the four quarterfinal berths.
“With this win, siguro hindi na magiging mababa ang morale ng mga players,” said Café France coach Egay Macaraya. “We have to win two of our remaining four games. The best way is focus on our next game against Cagayan, then we have a big chance of getting into the quarterfinals.”
Marion Magat took advantage of the Tigers’ lean frontcourt with 20 points and 14 rebounds. Josan Nimes had 17 points while Jens Knuttel had 11.
Café France used its size advantage to the hilt outrebounding Junior Powerade, 59-42.
» Returning Greg Slaughter helps lift NLEX past EA Regens Med to clinch D-League top seed
» Fruitas tops Cafe France to keep outright D-League semis hopes alive; Blackwater defeats Hog’s Breath
» D-League: Cagayan, Big Chill pick up wins over Boracay Rum, Cebuana