PASIG CITY – The CaféFrance Bakers and Cagayan Valley Rising Suns joined idle Hapee Fresh Fighters in a three-way logjam at the top of the 2014-2015 PBA D-League Aspirants Cup with hard-earned victories Thursday (November 13) at the Ynares Sports Arena. All three teams tote similar 3-0 win-loss records in the three-week old tournament.
The Bakers poured in a total of 13 triples to deal the Jumbo Plastic Linoleum Giants their first defeat, 66-61. Five of those came during the pivotal third period where back-to-back treys by Aaron Jeruta and Rodrigue Ebondo gave the Bakers the lead for good, 40-39, after trailing by as much as eight markers in the second canto, 28-36.
Jeruta and Ebondo sank one more triple each and Bong Galanza added another for good measure as CaféFrance outscored the Giants, 21-8, en route to a comfortable 53-44 cushion entering the final period. Both teams engaged each other in a free throw shooting contest until Joseph Sedurifa drained the 13th and final triple that assured the win entering the final two minutes, 62-51.
Ebondo had a superlative inside-outside game with 16 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks while shooting four triples. Sedurifa was next with 12 points followed by Galanza with 11.
“I’m happy the team is jelling on defense,” said Bakers coach Edgar Macaraya, himself a noted shooter during his professional playing days. “We have to work on our lead management and a leader must step up as we were just lucky in our first two wins.”
In the ensuing contest, the Rising Suns matched CaféFrance and Hapee’s record by frustrating the Cebuana Lhuillier Gems, 79-76. Guard Abel Galliguez presided over the Rising Suns’ third period rally as he scored 11 points including a four-point play that gave them their first hold of the lead, 59-56.
Despite temporarily ceding the advantage at the end of the third after an Allan Mangahas basket and Kevin Ferrer free throws, 59-60, momentum had clearly shifted to Cagayan Valley’s side. Randy Dilay scored all his seven points in a crippling 13-2 run to open the fourth with their biggest lead, 72-62. Still, consecutive triples from Almond Vosotros and Jessmar Villahermosa allowed Cebuana Lhuillier to threaten with 22 ticks remaining, 76-78.
Galliguez was quickly fouled and almost became the game’s goat by missing his two charities. Luckily for the Rising Suns, Vosotros flubbed the potential tying basket and Galliguez was again fouled, settling the final tally with a free throw and a second on the clock.
“This win really gives the team a lot of confidence,” said Galliguez, a recruit from John Brown University in Arkansas. “We are really excited because Moala Tautuaa will join us in the next game.”
Tautuaa, the overall top pick in the Rookie Draft, will arrive on Saturday after wrapping up his playing obligations in Malaysia. The hulking 6’7” Filipino-Tongan out of Chadron State College in Nebraska is expected to further boost the Rising Suns’ campaign by adding size to their frontline.
It was a sorry loss for the Gems who jumped to a 29-12 cushion early in the second period. Norbert Torres, Ferrer and Villahermosa easily found the hoop as the Gems coasted to taking the first half, 44-37.
Galliguez led all scorers with 22 points. Don Trollano backed him up with 21 points and 10 rebounds with Michael Mabulac adding 12 points.
The troika of Torres, Ferrer and Vosotros paced the Gems with 15 markers each and Ferrer plucking 16 rebounds. Villahermosa chipped in 13.
Meanwhile, the Bread Story-Lyceum Smashing Bakers ended its two-game slump by creaming the Tanduay Light Rhum Masters, 69-64. Joseph Gabayni hit a field goal followed by a Jeremiah Taladua triple that quelled a late Tanduay uprising entering the three-minute mark, 67-60.
Tanduay managed to cluster four straight free throws to threaten for the last time, 64-67. However, Jiovani Jalalon recovered the ball after Louie Vigil missed a pair, drawing a quick foul and settling the final score with two charities and 14 seconds to play.
Jalalon was the lone Bread Story player in twin digits with 15 but Gabayni, Mike Gamboa and Ed Daquioag supported him with eight markers each. John Foronda topped the Rhum Masters with 11 points and 15 rebounds followed by Robin Rono with 10 as they slipped to 1-2 together with Bread Story, Cebuana Lhuillier, AMA University and MP Hotel.
How They Scored:
BREAD STORY (69) – Jalalon 15, Gamboa 8, Gabayni 8, Daquioag 8, Vigil 7, Mbomiko 6, Taladua 6, Lasa 2, Corpuz 2, Baltazar 2, Elmejrab 2, Lao 0, Bulawan 0.
TANDUAY LIGHT (64) – Foronda 11, Rono 10, Cenal 7, Mandani 6, Sumang 6, Belencion 6, Ilagan 4, Ignacio 3, de Leon 3, Abrigo 2, Jumao-as 2, Banal 2, Tagarda 2.
Period Scores: 20-24, 39-35, 55-52, 69-64.
CAFÉFRANCE (66) – Ebondo 16, Sedurifa 12, Galanza 11, Jeruta 8, Abundo 6, Cortes 4, Huertas 3, Ahanmisi 3, Habelito 2, Andrada 1, de Leon 0, Noble 0, Batino 0.
JUMBO PLASTIC (61) – Eguilos 11, Sabellina 8, Magat 8, Lozada 8, Cruz 7, Heruela 7, Rios 3, King 3, Rosales 2, Maiquez 2, Villamor 2, Terso 0, Petilos 0, Javier 0.
Period Scores: 13-16, 32-36, 53-44, 66-61.
CAGAYAN VALLEY (79) – Galliguez 22, Trollano 21, Mabulac 12, Dilay 7, Flores 7, Melano 4, Salamat 3, Tayongtong 2, Austria 1, Mag-isa 0.
CEBUANA LHUILLIER (76) – Torres 15, Ferrer 15, Vosotros 15, Villahermosa 13, A. Mangahas 9, Enciso 3, Zamar 2, Lopez 2, Guinto 2, Sison 0, Arellano 0, J. Mangahas 0, Sarangay 0.
Period Scores: 12-23, 37-44, 59-60, 79-76.