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Belo powers Phoenix-FEU in OT to bag 2016 Aspirants Cup title


The brightest of stars perform at the highest of levels in the biggest stage.

Reigning Aspirants Cup Most Valuable Player Mac Belo scored 25 points and grabbed 13 rebounds to lead the Phoenix-Far Eastern University Tamaraws in a hard-fought Game Five win, 88-81, against the Cafe France-Centro Escolar University Bakers to win the 2016 PBA D-League Aspirants Cup Thursday afternoon at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.

After a close first quarter, the Bakers were ice cold from the field early in the second frame as the Accelerators surged ahead 20-13. Behind the tandem of Joseph Manlangit, scoring seven second quarte, and Aaron Jeruta, Cafe France-CEU was able to bounce back and overtake their opponents, 34-31, with a minute remaining in the half. A split at the foul stripe by Belo ended the bleeding for Phoenix-FEU but Rod Ebondo was able to find his way inside while a careless foul by Raymar Jose with .4 remaining led to two free throws for Zamar to close out the half and give Cafe France-CEU a 38-32 lead.

“Unang tinuturo ko sa kanila hindi puwedeng gumive-up, bawal mag-give up,” Phoenix-FEU head coach Eric Gonzales shared.

CEU mainstay Samboy De Leon continued the Bakers rally in the early parts of the third canto scoring six points that helped Cafe France-CEU build a 50-39 lead midway through the quarter. Moreover, Phoenix-FEU could not string together points as Paul Zamar was able to counter every Accelerator bucket. The Accelerators though were able to finish the quarter strong with RR Pogoy finding Raymar Jose for an and-one play.to cut the deficit to just six, 62-56, entering the fourth quarter.

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The Accelerators were able to lock the Bakers down on defense to start the final quarter. On the other end, a three-point play by Pogoy and conversions by Yutien Andrada and Belo gave Phoenix-FEU a 63-62 lead with 6:04 remaining in regulation. The two teams went back-and-forth with no team able to hold on to their respective leads afterwards. A floater by Zamar with 3:39 left was answered by a top of the arc triple by Mike Tolomia and two more charities by Belo to give Phoenix-FEU a 73-70 lead with 2:54 left.

With their backs against the wall, Manlangit worked hard on the block and was able to get a foul on big man Raymar Jose. Manlangit though split his free throws but, fortunately for the Bakers, Mon Abundo was there to grab the offensive rebound and find Ebondo inside for an easy bucket to tie the game at 73-all. A split by Tolomia and Manlangit in the next two plays resulted to another deadlock at 74-all with 1:23 left. However, a bevy of bad shots and turnovers by both squads resulted to the game extending for five more minutes.

In overtime, Belo was able to clean up a Daquioag miss six seconds in added time for a three-point play. After a leaner by Zamar, Belo then converted on a free throw while Tolomia was able to knockdown his second three of the ball game for an 81-76 lead. A long two by Zamar tried to break the cold spell the Bakers were in but a back-breaking three from the elbow by Pogoy gave Phoenix-FEU a six point cushion with 2:18 left. Misses by Ebondo on the foul stripe led to a jumper by Belo with 55 seconds remaining that further extended the Accelerators lead. A three by Zamar tried to salvage whatever was left with 29.2 ticks remaining but Tolomia’s free throws and misses by Abundo, Carl Cruz, and De Leon from beyond the arc spelled the doom for Cafe France-CEU.

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“Pinagusapan namin sa huddle, pagod na sila at pagod na kami,” an exhasperated Gonzales shared. “Ngayon pa ba kami bibitaw? Sabi nila, ‘Laban lang kami.'”

Belo, scoring a game-high 25 points on 8/20 and grabbing 13 boards, added that he was blessed to have won a UAAP and PBA D-League Championship. “Sobrang blessed lang namin at sulit na sulit lahat ng pinaghirapan namin,” he said, as he added three blocks, and two assists.

Tolomia added 15 points, seven boards, and three dimes in the championship-clinching game while Raymar Jose added 11 markers.

PBA-D-League-Phoenix-vs.-Cafe-France-6945 Belo powers Phoenix-FEU in OT to bag 2016 Aspirants Cup title Basketball FEU News PBA D-League  - philippine sports newsFor the runners-up, Paul Zamar was the high-point man with 20 points. Manlangit and Ebondo added 14 points apiece with the Congolese big man adding 20 boards to his statline.

With the win, Far Eastern University has now copped three straight championships in a span of five months: UAAP, National Collegiate Championship, and, now, the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup.

The Scores:

Phoenix-FEU (88) – Belo 25, Tolomia 15, Jose 11, Escoto Ru. 10, Pogoy 9, Tamsi 8, Andrada 4, Mendoza 3, Daquioag 2, Escoto Ri. 1, Inigo 0.

Cafe France-CEU (80) – Zamar 20, Ebondo 14, Manlangit 14, De Leon 11, Villahermosa 10, Abundo 4, Cruz 4, Jeruta 4, Anunciacion 0, Arim 0, Casino 0.

Quarterscores: 14-13, 32-38, 56-62, 74-74, 88-81.

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