PASIG CITY – CaféFrance rode on the broad shoulders of guard Maverick Ahanmisi as he was a virtual one-man army in lifting the Bakers past MJM M-Builders, 82-73, last Thursday (December 11) at the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup at the Ynares Sports Arena. The Bakers of Coach Edgar Macaraya upped their win-loss record to 5-1 and stayed within range for one of two outright semifinal seats.
A former University of Minnesota standout, Ahanmisi churned out a total of 31 points and 10 rebounds in one of the best individual performances of the conference. He made 12 in the third and 11 in the pivotal fourth period.
Jam Cortes put the Bakers on top for good with a stab, 65-64, and this was followed by an Ahanmisi triple and two free throws by Bong Galanza for a 70-64 count with still 5:54 to play. The Builders gamely clawed back to come within two markers, 73-75, but Mac Belo bungled two free throws that could have tied the game entering the final two minutes.
After exchanging several botched plays, Ahanmisi buried a dagger triple with 58 ticks remaining, 78-73. The Builders failed to convert from there as Rodrigue Ebondo added two more free throws and Joseph Sedurifa chipped in a late unmolested layup for the final tally.
The Builders gave the Bakers a tough challenge, leading at the end of each of the second and third periods. However, the Bakers saved enough energy for the final canto, sending the Builders further down the table at 1-6.
Thanks to back-to-back triples by Mike Tolomia, the Builders held a shaky 59-58 edge after three periods. Ahanmisi scored the first five points of the final period to grab back the lead but this was quickly neutralized by a five-point cluster by Carl Bryan Cruz and Tolomia, 64-63, setting the stage for the Bakers’ final surge.
“It was a total team effort and I thank my teammates for our good ball movement and for the screens they set,” said Ahanmisi whose mother Marissa Frankera is from Alcala, Pangasinan. “This game also taught us how to handle pressure.”
Galanza was the only other Baker in twin digits with 10. Ebondo and JM Noble also provided key support with eight markers each.
Glenn Khobuntin topped the Builders with 15 points and six rebounds, but was held to a lone basket in the fourth period after unloading 13 in the first half. Gelo Alolino and Tolomia added 11 points each.
Adding further inspiration to the Bakers’ play was a contingent of orphans from Hospicio de San Jose who watched and cheered behind their bench. The orphans’ visit was part of the continuing corporate social responsibility program of CaféFrance.
Ahanmisi’s herculean effort overshadowed the Hapee Fresh Fighters’ 65-43 slaughtering of Wang’s Basketball in the earlier contest. Hapee reinstalled itself as the tournament solo leader with an immaculate 6-0 record while Wang’s sunk to 2-4.
Holding on to a precarious 16-12 lead after one period, the Fresh Fighters finally unleashed their deadly form by going on a 10-0 blitzkrieg to begin the second canto starring Earl Scottie Thompson. John Allen Montemayor finally broke Wang’s silence with a basket at the 6:44 mark which ended up as their side’s only points as Hapee scored nine more to close the first half, 35-14.
Wang’s leaned on forward Macky Acosta’s seven points to go ahead, 12-10, but had to leave after he picked up his third personal foul which Hapee exploited by scoring the first period’s last six points. The Fresh Fighters could have had a bigger cushion but they missed eight of their 16 free throws.
“Wang’s energy was commendable,” said Coach Ronnie Magsanoc. “Today it was a test of the players’ readiness so it’s good they gave a good effort at the start of the second period.”
Garvo Lanete paced the Fresh Fighters with 15 points. Ray Parks and Thompson followed with 11 each.
Despite his personal foul woes, Acosta still led Wang’s with 15 points. Montemayor was next with seven points and six rebounds.
In the first game, Tanduay Light Rhum Masters notched its second win in a row by thrashing the MP Hotel Warriors, 69-59. For a while the Warriors looked headed for an easy win by taking the first period, 24-6, but could not sustain the effort as the Rhum Masters came roaring back in the next three periods.
Reden Celda marked his MP Hotel debut by combining with Jumabon Bulac for nine points each in the first period. However, Coach Lawrence Chongson countered with surprise performances from Choy Ignacio and new recruit Aljon Mariano to fuel Tanduay Light’s rally.
Ignacio hit a triple and followed it up with a field goal to give Tanduay Light a 62-53 advantage with 4:56 remaining. Jessie James Collado the led MP’s final gasp to threaten, 58-62, but this was quickly doused by timely baskets by JP Belencion, Robin Rono and Raymond Ilagan to preserve the win.
“Good thing the team woke up on time,” said Coach Chongson. “I kept reminding the players that we still have a chance.”
Ignacio drained a total of four triples en route to a team-high 16 points. Mariano backed him up with 12 points and seven rebounds.
After their first period stellar play, Celda and Bulac disappeared but still went on to pace the Warriors with 16 and 12 respectively. Celda added six rebounds and four assists to his output as the squad tumbled further down the cellar at 1-6 while the Rhum Masters rose to 3-4.
How They Scored:
TANDUAY LIGHT (69) – Ignacio 16, Mariano 12, Tagarda 9, Foronda 9, Rono 8, Belencion 5, Mandani 4, de Vera 4, Ilagan 2, Escueta 0, Santos 0, Cenal 0, Banal 0.
MP HOTEL (58) – Celda 14, Bulac 12, Pacquiao 11, Escosio 7, Rogado 7, Collado 6, Allen 1, Yaya 0, Quiro 0, Blanco 0, Calo 0, Jamon 0, Palma 0.
Period Scores: 8-24, 27-29, 53-47, 69-58.
HAPEE (65) – Lanete 15, Parks 11, Thompson 11, Van Opstal 8, Adeogun 8, Hayes 5, Amer 3, Rosario 2, Mendoza 2, Koga 0, Long 0, Sorela 0, de la Cruz 0, Newsome 0.
WANG’S BASKETBALL (43) – Acosta 15, Montemayor 7, Ferrer 6, Mendoza 5, Acuna 4, Vijandre 3, Morillo 1, Rosopa 1, Lina 1, Pontejos 0, Montuano 0, Arambulo 0.
Period Scores: 16-12, 35-14, 51-32, 65-43.
CAFÉFRANCE (82) – Ahanmisi 31, Galanza 10, Noble 8, Ebondo 8, Cortes 7, Huertas 6, Abundo 4, Sedurifa 4, Andrada 2, Batino 2, Jeruta 0, de Leon 0.
MJM M-BUILDERS (73) – Khobuntin 15, Alolino 11, Tolomia 11, Cruz 10, Belo 8, Mendoza 6, Jose 4, Javelona 4, Neypes 4, Pogoy 0, Alberto 0.
Period Scores: 16-16, 34-37, 58-59, 82-73.