Sidney Onwubere was the hero that the Racal Tile Masters needed, as he nailed the game-winning trey to lift his side to an 88-86 Game One win against the Café France-Centro Escolar University Bakers, Tuesday afternoon at the Marikina Sports Center. The Tile Masters are now a win away from advancing to the 2017 PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup Finals.
Heating up from downtown, the gritty forward shot the lights out from three, going 5-of-10 from beyond the arc, none bigger than his buzzer-beating trey to cap off the Tile Masters’ late 13-4 fightback.
“Tinira ko na lang yung bola,” said the Fil-Nigerian Onwubere, who finished with 24 points, three rebounds, and three assists. He went 5-of-10 from downtown, and his fifth triple proved to be the deadliest.
“Pinasok ko na lang yung shooters and we’re just going for a decent shot,” added coach Jerry Codinera. “Ang nangyari, Sidney was open. I’m happy with the patience he showed on his offense today.”
Kent Salado chipped in 16 markers, six boards, and six dimes, while Jackson Corpuz got 14 points and six rebounds.
The Tile Masters fought back from an 82-75 deficit with 2:07 remaining, but seemed to have lost grip of the game after Rod Ebondo, who received the ball after an errant Corpuz tap on a rebound play, nailed a three with 1.9 seconds remaining to give the Bakers an 86-85 advantage.
Onwubere refused to go down, however, as he got the ball off of an inbound pass from Allan Mangahas to save the day for Racal.
Racal had 56 points in the paint to negate the 13 triples and 21 free throw attempts of Café France
Ebondo carried Café France with 30 points — his career-high, 13 rebounds, and four blocks — while Paul Desiderio had 17 markers, four assists, and three boards.
Game Two is scheduled to take place on Thursday, March 23, at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
Racal (88) – Onwubere 24, Salado 16, Corpuz 14, Flores 10, Nambatac 9 Mangahas 7, Dagangon 3, Torres 3, Gabawan 2, Gumaru 0, Terso 0.
Cafe France-CEU (86) – Ebondo 30, Desiderio 17, Casino 13, Sedurifa 9, Calisaan 5, Faundo 4, Wamar 3, Arim 2, Manlangit 2, Jeruta 1, Aquino 0, Guinitaran 0.
Quarterscores: 22-20, 39-34, 59-60, 88-86.