PASIG CITY – CafeFrance-CEU clinched the top seeding of the 2016 PBA D-League Aspirants Cup via a hard-earned 83-74 over Phoenix Petroleum-FEU Thursday (March 3) at the Ynares Sports Arena. Still, Coach Edgar Macaraya downplays the achievement as there remains a lot of basketball to be played.
“It’s just for positioning,” said Coach Macaraya. “We have to continue defense like today when we held a high-scoring team to its lowest output in the tournament.”
Prior to the game, the Accelerators were averaging 97.5 points a game. The Bakers’ defense limited them to only 31 points in the second half.
Mar Villahermosa opened the second half with a triple that gave CafeFrance the lead for good, 44-43. That was the cue for Rodrigue Ebondo and Alvin Abundo to bring out the scoring cudgels for the Bakers, combining for 11 points as they pulled away, 65-48.
The Accelerators’ manpower shortage then became evident as the likes of Roger Pogoy and Raymar Jose did not suit up due to injuries. Former FEU player Carl Bryan Cruz drained a booming triple at the 2:16 mark that erected the Bakers’ biggest lead, 81-71.
Ebondo was on beast mode the whole game, finishing with 26 points and 19 rebounds. Villahermosa had 13 points, 10 coming in the second period.
Al Francis Tamsi was the lone Phoenix player in twin digits with 17 points on five triples. Chris Tolomia followed with nine silent points while tournament scoring leader Mac Belo was limited to six, a far cry from his 22.3 points average.
In the first game, QRS JAM Liner-UP annexed the fourth seeding and a twice to beat advantage in the playoffs by trouncing AMA Online Education, 100-84. The Maroons turned up the juice in the second half, slowly pulling away as the Titans offered minimal resistance.
Raul Soyud typified the Maroons’ second half onslaught with 19 of his team-high 25 points on top of 19 rebounds. Raymond Aguilar likewise submitted monster numbers with 18 points and 10 rebounds.
Jam Jamito paced AMA with 24 points and 11 rebounds but could only come up with five markers in the second half. Rashawn McCarthy had a triple double of 17 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists but the effort went to naught.
The Maroons will face Tanduay Rhum in the playoff opener, a team they defeated last January 26 to tune of 102-86. However, Coach Robert de la Rosa said that the Maroons will be a different team come the playoffs because the players are now more familiar with each other.
The final day of the elimination round on Monday (March 7) at the San Juan Arena will decide the final three playoff slots. Phoenix will tackle the ZC Mindanao Aguilas at 2:00 PM followed by Banco de Oro-NU against sure second seed Caida Tiles.
How They Scored:
QRS JAM LINER-UP (100) – Soyud 25, Aguilar 18, Ferrer 14, Moralde 14, Alolino 7, Batino 6, Dario 4, Desiderio 4, Neypes 4, Lim 2, Sorela 0, Harris 0.
AMA ONLINE (84) – Jamito 24, McCarthy 17, King 15, Ambulodto 11, de Leon 6, Tampus 6, Arambulo 4, Jordan 1, Magpantay 0, Angeles 0, Asuncion 0, Tobias 0, Gutierrez 0.
Period Scores: 19-25, 44-45, 69-63, 100-84.
CAFEFRANCE-CEU (83) – Ebondo 26, Villahermosa 13, de Leon 11, Cruz 11, Abundo 10, Jeruta 5, Opiso 3, Zamar 2, Manlangit 2, Celso 0, Arim 0.
PHOENIX PETROLEUM-FEU (74) – Tamsi 17, Tolomia 9, Mendoza 7, Pascual 7, Belo 6, Andrada 6, Ri. Escoto 6, Ru. Escoto 5, Daquioag 5, Inigo 4, Lee Yu 0.
Period Scores: 15-18, 41-43, 65-58, 83-74.