PASIG CITY – CaféFrance forced the very first Game Three in PBA D-League history by thwarting Hapee, 76-70, in Game Two of the 2015 Foundation Cup Finals Monday (June 22) at the Ynares Sports Arena. The decider is set for this Thursday (June 25) at the same venue starting at 3:00 PM.
Boosted by their huge cheering gallery, the Bakers made sure they would dictate the early tempo and rushed to an 8-0 lead. The Fresh Fighters would counter with six straight points of their own but this was quickly neutralized by an 11-1 run anchored on the six points of Aaron Jeruta, 19-7.
CaféFrance led all the way, going as high as 18 markers just before the halftime break, 43-25, with Samboy de Leon providing the firepower from long distance. Refusing the quit, the Fresh Fighters staged repeated rallies but the Bakers always had a ready answer.
The intensity refused to die down, almost reaching boiling point at the 2:51 mark of the fourth and the Bakers coasting, 72-62, after a triple from Eliud Poligrates. Alfred Batino gave up his sixth and final personal foul on Art de la Cruz in a rebound scuffle resulting in the latter crashing to the floor in pain but later managed to walk back to the bench on his own power.
The referees then had to eject Hapee manager Bernard Yang and CaféFrance assistant manager Jun Tiongco for their near-scuffle. Players Michael Miranda of the Bakers and Jaypee Mendoza of the Fresh Fighters were slapped technical fouls for exchanging harsh words while teammate Ola Adeogun also got a technical for disrespectfully addressing one of the referees.
The commotion seemed to have fired up the Fresh Fighters as they staged on final mighty comeback with Chris Newsome completing a three-point play to threaten with 1:34 to play, 67-73. Jeruta then committed a five-second ball hogging violation but his teammates bailed him out with a crucial defensive stop that set the stage for the dagger basket by Poligrates with 10 ticks left, 75-67.
“First, we played good defense and the team was focused not just on one player but on the entire Hapee team,” said Coach Edgar Macaraya. “I’m proud of my players as this Hapee team is very hard to beat.”
Poligrates reiterated his desire to win the championship, believing his experience and veteran smarts will rub on to the younger players. “Coach just told me to shoot and shoot and rebuild my confidence after the loss in Game One,” he said.
De Leon drained three triples en route to a team-high 14 points for the Bakers. Batino played his best game of the tournament with 11 points followed by Rodrigue Ebondo with a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Newsome paced Hapee with 10 of his 15 markers in the fourth period on top of 10 rebounds. De la Cruz finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
Prior to the game, all eight previous D-League championships ended in 2-0 sweeps. “Records are made to be broken and miracles happen and we will go all out to win on Thursday,” declared Coach Macaraya.
Asked for comment, Coach Ronnie Magsanoc would rather first review the videos of the game before they make adjustments, praising the Bakers for their excellent shooting. Entering Game Three, the Fresh Fighters have to contend with injuries to Baser Amer (shoulder), Earl Scottie Thompson (hamstring), Adeogun (hamstring) and de la Cruz (knee) while Kirk Long flew to the United States to attend his brother’s wedding.
Meanwhile, Cebuana Lhuillier center Moala Tautuaa was recognized as the Best Player of the Conference in simple rites before Game Two. He led the tournament in scoring with 17.9 points per game, powering the Gems to the top seeding after the elimination round with a 7-2 win-loss card.
Tautuaa received his trophy from PBA Chairman Patrick Gregorio and Asian Television Content President Engr. Reynaldo Sanchez. The newly-minted MVP is expected to be the top selection in the PBA Rookie Draft slated for August 23, 2015.
How They Scored:
CAFÉFRANCE (76) – de Leon 14, Batino 11, Ebondo 10, Sedurifa 9, Poligrates 8, Jeruta 8, Abundo 8, Ahanmisi 7, Cortes 1, Galanza 0, Miranda 0, Noble 0, Miranda 0.
HAPEE (70) – Newsome 15, de la Cruz 14, Rosario 13, Thompson 9, Elorde 6, Romero 5, Amer 3, Mendoza 3, Sorela 2, Gamboa 0, Villahermosa 0, Koga 0.
Period Scores: 21-12, 45-30, 62-48, 76-70.