PASIG CITY – The CaféFrance Bakers copped their third straight win in continuing action from the 2015 PBA D-League Foundation Cup Thursday (April 16) at the Ynares Sports Arena by clipping the tough MP Hotel Warriors, 86-77. In the other game, the KeraMix Mixers shocked the Hapee Fresh Fighters, 77-74.
The expected cakewalk for the Bakers never materialized as the largest lead they could build amounted to only 10 points, 26-16. In a game of spurts, the Warriors finally tasted the lead for the first time on a Bong Quinto triple with 3:50 to go in the third period, 52-50.
The celebration was short lived as the Bakers unloaded seven unanswered points to close the period, 59-52. Yutien Andrada made a field goal followed by a Maverick Ahanmisi triple that matched CaféFrance’s biggest lead with still 5:42 remaining, 74-64, and the Bakers coasted to the victory.
Sadly, the triumph came with a price as Bakers guard Alvin Abundo rolled his left ankle as he attempted a floater in the waning seconds of the first half and the Bakers ahead, 42-34. “Losing Alvin was a big blow to the team especially with our ball movement but I’m glad the other guards stepped up in his absence,” said winning coach Edgar Macaraya.
Ahanmisi led all scorers with 18 points on top of nine rebounds and six assists. Joseph Sedurifa added 15 markers followed by Yutien Andrada with 11.
Quinto paced the Warriors with 15 points, 13 made in the second half, plus five rebounds. Mark Cruz and Rey Nambatac supported him with 14 and 13 points respectively.
The Bakers only loss was one-point squeaker at the hands of Cebuana Lhuillier, 85-86, in their tournament debut last March 16. The Warriors fell to the bottom of the 10-team field at 1-4.
Despite the return of Hapee stalwart Ray Parks from a shoulder injury, the Mixers opted to play small ball and the ploy of Coach Carlos Garcia worked out well. Trailing 4-6, the Mixers managed to rattle off eight straight points to grab the lead for good, 12-6.
The Mixers always had a ready answer for all of Hapee’s rallies in a shockingly physical affair. The usually calm Parks and Rosario were slapped flagrant fouls that forced them to temporarily sit down as penalty.
The tension nearly hit boiling point at the 6:07 mark of the third period after Mixer Jam Jamito committed a flagrant foul by slapping a driving Kirk Long on the face. Brief scuffles ensued and a slew of technical fouls were assessed on of players and officials of both sides.
Hapee tried one final rally with Parks sinking a triple and Long stealing the ensuing inbound pass for a layup, 67-70, and 1:51 on the clock. Mike Parala added a free throw for some breathing space, 71-67, and the Fresh Fighters blew their chances with a 24-second violation to return the ball to KeraMix.
Jeff Alvin Viernes and Michael DiGregorio sealed the win with four straight free throws that raised the Mixers’ advantage to eight markers and 57 ticks left, 75-67. A late scoring spree by Nico Elorde reduced Hapee’s final deficit.
“I told the players that if they want to make the playoffs, they have to beat Hapee,” said Coach Garcia. “The team is blessed to have two of the best point guards in the league in Jiovani and Jeff.”
Jalalon and Viernes rewarded their coach’s confidence in them with 12 and 11 points each. DiGregorio and seldom-used Billy Ray Robles also knocked in 11 for the Mixers who arrested their two-game losing slump and improve to 3-2.
Chris Newsome and Rosario were the high men for the Fresh Fighters with 15 points apiece. Long chipped in 11 points as they leveled their record to 2-2 in a logjam with Jumbo Plastic, AMA University and the Cagayan Valley, their next opponent this Monday (April 20) at the San Juan Arena in a rematch of the 2014-2015 Aspirants Cup finale.
How They Scored:
CAFÉFRANCE (86) – Ahanmisi 18, Sedurifa 15, Andrada 11, Jeruta 7, de Leon 7, Batino 7, Abundo 6, Ebondo 6, Cortes 5, Noble 4, Galanza 0, Celso 0, Miranda 0.
MP HOTEL (77) – Quinto 15, Cruz 14, Nambatac 13, Acidre 9, Custodio 7, Escosio 6, Mirza 5, Colina 4, Mendoza 4, de la Pena 0.
Period Scores: 21-16, 42-34, 59-52, 86-77.
KERAMIX (77) – Jalalon 12, DiGregorio 11, Viernes 11, Robles 11, Gabawan 8, Ruaya 8, Parala 8, Agovida 6, Jamito 2, Bartolo 0.
HAPEE (74) – Newsome 15, Rosario 15, Long 11, Elorde 9, Parks 7, Villahermosa 5, Bringas 4, Thompson 3, Gamboa 2, Mendoza 2, Romero 0, Hayes 0.
Period Scores: 15-12, 34-25, 53-42, 77-73.