PASIG CITY – Carl Bryan Cruz caught fire in the overtime period as he lifted CafeFrance-CEU over Phoenix Petroleum, 96-93, at the 2016 PBA D-League Foundation Cup at the Ynares Sports Arena Thursday night (July 21). The Bakers thus assumed the solo leadership of the tournament with their fourth straight win and a 7-1 win-loss record.
Returning to active duty after a one-game suspension, Cruz scattered nine points including the Bakers’ first seven in the extension against a lone field goal from Russell Escoto. Rodrigue Ebondo then added two free throws to give CafeFrance its biggest lead of the overtime and never looked back, 88-81.
Meeting for the first time since their epic five-game championship series in the last Aspirants Cup, the Accelerators give it one last push as Mike Tolomia’s triple put them within a point with eight seconds remaining, 93-94. Tolomia quickly fouled Paul Zamar, who calmly made his two free throws for the final tally with still five ticks to go as Tolomia missed an awkward triple at the buzzer that could have forced a second overtime.
Cruz’ splendid performance in the extra period atoned for his missed free throw that could have iced the game in regulation. The miss led to Zamar fouling Tolomia at the three-point line at the three-second mark with the latter making his three gift shots to tie the game and force the overtime.
“This win is not a true test for us because Phoenix played without Mac Belo,” said Coach Edgar Macaraya. “I’m happy we have a good chance to get the twice-to-beat advantage in the semifinals but we really had a hard time today.”
Cruz, Zamar and Ebondo all finished with 15 points each. Ebondo made it a double-double by hauling 16 rebounds.
Roger Pogoy sizzled all night long with 26 points but it was not enough to deliver the victory as Phoenix fell to 7-2 in a tie with idle Racal Tiles and half-a-game behind the Bakers. Ed Daquioag and Tolomia added 16 points each.
The Bakers and Accelerators will tangle one more time on August 4, the penultimate day of the eliminations at the Arellano University Gym. Game time is at 4:00 PM.
How They Scored:
CAFEFRANCE-CEU (96) – Zamar 15, Cruz 15, Ebondo 15, Abundo 13, Jeruta 12, Opiso 6, Parala 6, Custodio 5, Casino 4, Manlangit 3, Arim 2.
PHOENIX PETROLEUM (93) – Pogoy 26, Daquioag 16, Tolomia 16, Escoto 11, Inigo 10, Jamito 6, Mendoza 5, Colina 2, Batino 1, Andrada 0, Tamsi 0.
Period Scores: 19-21, 42-35, 59-57, 79-79 (reg.), 96-93 (OT).