BACOOR CITY – CafeFrance-CEU will simply not give away its hold on the PBA D-League Foundation Cup. The reigning champions summoned all their might to hack out a 78-68 semifinal victory and force a rubber match against Phoenix Petroleum at the STRIKE Gym Thursday evening (August 11).
For a while, it looked like the Accelerators were on their way to dethroning the Bakers by leading at the half, 34-29. However, Carl Bryan Cruz and Aaron Jeruta had other things in mind.
The duo silently rallied CafeFrance, with Jeruta capping their 17-10 run with a three-point play to give them the lead for good, 46-44. The run seemed to have knocked the fight out of Phoenix quite early as they simply allowed their foes to coast to the win.
By the fourth, Cruz and Jeruta continued to pound on the Accelerators with Rodrigue Ebondo joining the parade. The Bakers did a good job of maintaining their distance, with their lead reaching its highest just before the buzzer, 78-66.
“They really want to play one more game so we stepped up on defense,” said Coach Edgar Macaraya. “Our strategy will be the same for the knockout game as we will again try to stop (Mac) Belo, (Mike) Tolomia and (Roger) Pogoy.”
Ebondo had another monster performance of 19 points, 18 rebounds and two blocks while Cruz had 17 points and eight rebounds. Jeruta broke out of his scoring slump to scatter all his 13 points in the second half to power the Bakers’ comeback.
Belo topped the Accelerators with 23 points and 11 rebounds followed by Tolomia with 20. Ed Daquioag chipped in 10 markers as the rest of the squad groped for scores.
The decider will be played on Tuesday (August 16) at the same venue. The winner will play the survivor of the Racal Tiles-Tanduay Rhum series which also went into a decider after the Rhum Masters defeated the Tile Masters in the earlier contest, 88-86.
How They Scored:
CAFEFRANCE-CEU (78) – Ebondo 19, Cruz 17, Jeruta 13, Abundo 10, Zamar 7, de Leon 4, Casino 4, Manlangit 2, Parala 2, Opiso 0, Custodio 0.
PHOENIX PETROLEUM (68) – Belo 23, Tolomia 20, Daquioag 10, Pogoy 7, Escoto 2, Andrada 2, Inigo 2, Jamito 2, Mendoza 0, Batino 0, Tamsi 0, Knuttel 0, Colina 0.
Period Scores: 12-16, 29-34, 55-52, 78-68.