PASIG CITY – The Cebuana Lhuillier Gems and the CaféFrance Bakers maintained their grip on the top two positions of the 2015 PBA D-League Foundation Cup standings with contrasting wins Thursday (April 23) at the Ynares Sports Arena. The undefeated Gems needed an extra period to dispose of the gritty AMA University Titans, 97-90, while the Bakers waltzed past the LiverMarin Guardians, 79-55.
AMA’s Jerramy King soared in for a layup to tie the game at 80-80 with still 10 seconds left in regulation. The Gems had a chance but Moala Tautuaa slipped and lost the ball that allowed Jaycee Asuncion one final heave at the buzzer from center court that went nowhere.
Playing well throughout the first four periods, Tautuaa again nearly cost his team the game after he was caught for goaltending Dexter Maiquez’ shot thus pushing AMA ahead for the last time, 90-89, at the 1:23 mark. Simon Enciso then made back-to-back baskets to bail out the Gems, 93-90, and time running down to 39 ticks.
King then took the ball strong only to ram into Tautuaa’s defensive wall for a forced attempt. Tautuaa atoned for his earlier miscues by grabbing the defensive rebound plus a foul from King, sinking both charities for more cushion, 95-90.
The Gems forced another defensive stop and Tautuaa settled the final tally with two more free throws. The loss sent the Titans into a triple tie at 2-3 with the idle Jumbo Plastic and Hapee Fresh Fighters for Fifth to Seventh Place.
AMA actually started strong by racing to a 13-2 lead behind King’s seven points. Paul Zamar then came off the bench to pump in 10 points to perk up the Gems but the Titans still held the driver’s seat after the first canto, 23-22.
“They thought they were invincible so that allowed the weaknesses to come out,” explained Coach David “Boycie” Zamar about their lethargic start. “The lesson learned here is to never underestimate your opponent.”
Tautuaa had another monster effort with 30 points, 19 rebounds and three blocks. Zamar followed with 18 points, his best output thus far in the tournament.
Maiquez paced the Titans with 22 points, 15 coming in the fourth period and overtime, plus 10 rebounds. King and new acquisition Asuncion both chipped in 17 markers each.
For now the Gems can savor their six-game winning run over an 18-day break as they will not return to the court until May 11 when they tangle with LiverMarin. While their mates continue to practice, Gems Norbert Torres and Almond Vosotros will join the national team for the Southeast Asian Basketball Association (SEABA) championship in Singapore.
The Bakers had a relatively easier time against the Guardians, who never recovered from their opponent’s 11-0 opening blast. Starter Samboy de Leon scattered seven points and substitute JM Noble continued the assault with eight points in the second to give the Bakers a comfortable 46-26 halftime edge.
De Leon was not done yet as he peppered LiverMarin with 11 more points in the third period as the knockout blows came early. Joseph Sedurifa clustered five straight points to begin the fourth period and give CaféFrance its biggest lead, 70-42.
“The team is peaking at the right time and they are now playing for four periods with good defense,” said Coach Edgar Macaraya. “They promised management that they will go for a semifinal appearance at the very least.”
De Leon finished with 18 points via three triples on top of six rebounds. Maverick Ahanmisi also posted good all-around numbers with 15 points, seven rebounds and six assists as the Bakers have won all their four assignments since losing by the slimmest of margins to the Gems, 85-86, in their tournament opener last March 16.
Jamil Ortuoste was the sole Guardian in double-figures with 14 markers. The trio of Bradwyn Guinto, Nicole Bangga and Jansen Rios all had nine points apiece as LiverMarin fell into a tie with the MP Hotel Warriors at the bottom of the table at 1-4.
How They Scored:
CEBUANA LHUILLIER (97) – Tautuaa 30, Zamar 18, Vosotros 12, Corpuz 10, Torres 10, Enciso 9, J. Mangahas 8, A. Mangahas 0, Sarangay 0.
AMA (90) – Maiquez 22, King 17, Asuncion 17, Martinez 12, Camasura 11, Taganas 8, Sison 3, Rosales 0, Quijano 0, Angeles 0.
Period Scores: 22-23, 41-37, 63-59, 80-80 (reg.), 97-90 (OT).
CAFÉFRANCE (79) – de Leon 18, Ahanmisi 15, Miranda 10, Sedurifa 10, Noble 8, Cortes 6, Galanza 4, Ebondo 4, Jeruta 2, Andrada 2, Celso 0, Abundo 0, Batino 0.
LIVERMARIN (55) – Ortuoste 14, Guinto 9, Rios 9, Bangga 9, Costelo 5, Fabian 3, de la Cruz 2, Calisaan 2, Santos 2, Ignacio 0, Balucanag 0, de Vera 0, Laude 0.
Period Scores: 23-13, 46-26, 65-42, 79-55.