PASIG CITY – CaféFrance achieved a milestone in franchise history by qualifying for the championship series of the PBA D-League for the first time. This after the Bakers eliminated the Cagayan Valley Rising Suns, 92-78, from semifinal action of the 2015 Foundation Cup Thursday (June 11) at the Ynares Sports Arena sweeping the best-of-three series, 2-0.
Nursing a shaky 61-55 advantages after three periods, stalwarts Samboy de Leon, Eliud Poligrates, Maverick Ahanmisi and Rodrigue Ebondo struck heavily from all angles in the fourth as the Bakers unloaded 31 points to break the game wide open. The Bakers never allowed the Rising Suns to recover their form as they simply wilted amidst the dizzying onslaught.
The Rising Suns actually last held the lead with 4:52 to go in the third period, 53-52, on a basket by Andrian Celada. From there, Ebondo grabbed back the lead for good after tipping in a missed free throw by Poligrates and followed it up with a three-point for a 57-53 count at the 3:26 mark.
“We have now achieved our goal of making the finals,” said Coach Edgar Macaraya. “With the team gelling together and with management’s all-out support, we will go for gold.”
Overall, both squads battled through three deadlocks and six lead changes. The Bakers routed the Rising Suns in the battle for rebounds, 58-33, with Ebondo grabbing 12.
De Leon led all scorers with 11 of his 23 points in the fourth period on top of eight rebounds. Poligrates was next with 22 points, four rebounds and three assists.
Poligrates was simply thankful for the second opportunity CaféFrance gave him. “My teammates are really helping me fit into the team and I want to return the favor by winning the title,” said Poligrates who played for the Bakers before playing professionally with Talk ‘N Text and Kia.
The Bakers are one of only three remaining franchises from the inaugural 2011 Foundation Cup along with the Cebuana Lhuillier the then Cobra Energy Drink (now the Tanduay Light Rhum Masters). Prior to this, the team’s best effort was reaching the semifinals of the last Aspirants Cup earlier this year.
Abel Galliguez paced the Rising Suns with 14 points, 10 made in the fourth canto along with seven assists. Celada and Eric Salamat backed him up with 12 points each.
CaféFrance easily took Game One of the series, 82-71, last Monday (June 8). They will meet either Cebuana Lhuillier or Hapee in the best-of-three championship series.
How They Scored:
CAFÉFRANCE (92) – de Leon 23, Poligrates 22, Ebondo 17, Ahanmisi 10, Cortes 10, Abundo 4, Galanza 2, Sedurifa 2, Andrada 2, Miranda 0, Noble 0, Batino 0.
CAGAYAN VALLEY (78) – Galliguez 14, Salamat 12, Celada 12, Magat 8, Flores 8, Mabulac 8, Trollano 7, Rogado 5, Austria 2, Santos 2, Dilay 0, Tayongtong 0, Melano 0.
Period Scores: 21-14, 42-35, 61-55, 92-78.