SAN JUAN City – CafeFrance-CEU levelled the best-of-five championship series for the 2016 PBA D-League Aspirants Cup at 1-1 after a clinical 86-77 thrashing of Phoenix Petroleum-FEU Tuesday (April 5) at the San Juan Arena. This time, the Bakers came out of the gates with the intensity and energy missing in their Game One loss last week, 78-82.
“This is the opposite of the first game because we played hard for the first three quarters but I admit we got tired by the fourth,” said winning coach Edgar Macaraya. CafeFrance managed to erect a 65-44 advantage in the third but the Accelerators came roaring back to threaten with 1:43 to go in the contest, 77-81.
Carl Bryan Cruz then came to the Bakers’ rescue with a five-point cluster beginning with a three-point play followed by a tip-in with 13 seconds left. Cruz had a tournament-low four points in Game One but bounced back with 18 points and nine rebounds for Best Player honors.
“I used my familiarity with the Phoenix players,” said Cruz who spent his varsity years at Far Eastern University. “I am also hoping that a good performance in this series will help me realize my dream of making it to the PBA.”
The Bakers drew major performances from the rest of the squad. Paul Zamar pumped in 10 of his 13 points in their third period breakaway while Rodrigue Ebondo had a monster effort of 11 points and 20 rebounds.
Mac Belo powered the Accelerators’ fourth period rally with eight of his 22 points. Also chipping in double figures were Ed Daquioag with 16 and Roger Pogoy with 10.
Coach Macaraya also admitted that they were unable to adjust to the Phoenix zone defense and their shooters began missing. Still, CafeFrance hit 10 out of 35 from the three-point distance with Zamar and Aaron Jeruta accounting for three triples each.
Forward Samboy de Leon was thrown out after incurring both a technical foul and flagrant foul late in the third period, leaving with eight points and five rebounds. Instead of folding, the Bakers used de Leon’s ejection as a challenge and held strong amidst the Accelerators’ final charge.
Game Three of the series will be on Thursday (April 7) at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City. Tip off will be at 3:00 PM.
How They Scored:
CAFEFRANCE-CEU (86) – Cruz 18, Zamar 13, Jeruta 12, Ebondo 11, Abundo 10, de Leon 8, Manlangit 7, Opiso 4, Villahermosa 3, Celso 0, Casino 0.
PHOENIX PETROLEUM-FEU (77) – Belo 22, Daquioag 16, Pogoy 10, Tamsi 9, Tolomia 6, Ru. Escoto 5, Inigo 5, Andrada 4, Mendoza 0, Pascual 0, Ri. Escoto 0.
Period Scores: 20-23, 49-34, 69-51, 86-77.