SAN JUAN City – The CaféFrance Bakers scored an impressive come from behind victory over the Cagayan Valley Rising Suns, 86-80, at the resumption of the 2015 PBA D-League Foundation Cup Monday afternoon (April 6) at the San Juan Arena. In the first game, the Jumbo Plastic Linoleum Giants drubbed the KeraMix Mixers for their second straight win, 78-72.
Trailing by their largest after three periods, 52-66, the Bakers went on a 21-7 run led by Maverick Ahanmisi and Jam Cortes and capped with Rodrigue Ebondo tying the game with two free throws, 73-73, and 4:47 to play. Still, the Rising Suns held on via key scores by Abel Galliguez and Adrian Celada.
After a key Bakers defensive stop, Aaron Jeruta then shattered the game’s final deadlock with a triple at the 1:25 mark, 81-78. That proved to be the dagger as the Rising Suns never recovered, coming up with only two free throws down the stretch while CaféFrance methodically sealed the game from the foul stripe.
“Coming off our two-week break, it seems the team forgot how to play basketball,” said Coach Edgar Macaraya with a little grin. “Good thing they again showed their character with their second half performance.”
The Rising Suns looked to turn the game into a runaway as Celada, Don Trollano and Michael Mabulac took turns at peppering the Bakers with big baskets. Cagayan outscored the Bakers in the third, 31-20, but this was negated by the Bakers’ final period explosion, 34-14.
Slowly recovering from injuries that hounded him in the previous games, Ebondo came off the bench to lead CaféFrance with 18 points and 16 rebounds. Reigning NAASCU MVP Samboy de Leon gave massive support with 17 points off three triples on top of eight rebounds.
Celada paced the Rising Suns with 14 markers. Trollano followed with 12 points and four assists but his foul trouble and early disqualification tolled heavily.
The Giants unveiled a surprise in guard Alex Almario as the former Jose Rizal Heavy Bomber immediately scattered 12 points in the opening half to push Jumbo Plastic ahead, 40-35. Entering the game in Second Place in the 10-team standings, the Mixers countered with Michael DiGregorio waxing hot from arc by draining three triples to threaten entering the final phase, 52-55.
Jeff Alvin Viernes then converted a technical free throw followed by a Keith Agovida field goal that gave back the Mixers the upper hand for the first time since the first period, 59-57. DiGregorio continued his shooting spree with his sixth triple for the Mixers’ biggest lead with 3:25 on the clock, 69-63.
Suddenly, Jumbo Plastic rattled off nine unanswered points highlighted by back-to-back three-point plays by Almario and Glenn Khobuntin to seize back the lead, 72-69. DiGregorio and Dennice Villamor then traded triples but Keith Agovida commited a costly error that returned possession to the Giants with 16 ticks remaining.
With no choice but to foul and stop the time, the Mixers sent Philip Paniamogan to the free throw line and proceeded to make two free throws that made it a two-possession game, 77-72. KeraMix bungled its last offensive and Paniamogan settled the final tally with another free throw at the two-second mark.
Coach Stevenson Tiu was all praises for Almario, who he benched in their last game. “He really dictated the game’s tempo and Alex worked hard to defend the guards of KeraMix like Jeff Viernes and Jiovani Jalalon,” said Coach Tiu who also challenged his players to prove that their 64-61 win over Hapee last March 23 was not a fluke.
Almario finished with 17 points and five steals. Paniamogan and Tristan Perez followed with 12 points each.
DiGregorio topped KeraMix with 21 points, all coming from the three-point line. Viernes was next with 10 points and six rebounds as the Mixers have now lost their last two games after starting the tournament with two wins.
How They Scored:
JUMBO PLASTIC (78) – Almario 17, Paniamogan 12, Perez 12, Villamor 10, Khobuntin 8, Sabellina 7, Tiongson 4, Avillanoza 4, Eguilos 2, Rosales 2.
KERAMIX (72) – DiGregorio 21, Viernes 10, Saitanan 8, Parala 8, Jalalon 7, Ruaya 5, Gabawan 4, Jamito 4, Gil 3, Agovida 2, Canta 0.
Period Scores: 22-18, 40-35, 55-52, 78-72.
CAFÉFRANCE (86) – Ebondo 18, de Leon 17, Cortes 15, Ahanmisi 13, Jeruta 9, Andrada 6, Miranda 3, Abundo 3, Sedurifa 2, Galanza 0, Noble 0, Batino 0.
CAGAYAN VALLEY (80) – Celada 14, Trollano 12, Mabulac 9, Tayongtong 8, Magat 7, Santos 7, Galliguez 7, Austria 6, Melano 6, Rogado 4, Dilay 0, Flores 0, Arquero 0.
Period Scores: 19-22, 32-35, 52-66, 86-80.