The only loss in the 2016 PBA D-League Aspirants Cup tournament of the Cafe France-Centro Escolar University Bakers has been avenged.
The Bakers grinded out the Tanduay Rhum Masters in a low-scoring affair, 65-58, to go up 1-0 in the best-of-three semifinals series Tuesday afternoon at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan City.
Cafe France-CEU struggled from the field in the first half in shooting just 33% from the field. Out of all the Bakers, only Joseph Manlangit had a good shooting percentage as he went 3/4 from the field for eight first half points. Even Congolese big man Rodrigue Ebondo was a dismal 3/8 from the inside for seven points but he made up for it on the boards with 13 rebounds to help Cafe France-CEU gain a 32-28 lead entering the second half.
“Good motivation itong game na ito. Sila lang nakatalo sa amin,” Cafe France-CEU head coach Egay Macaraya said as his team was able to limit Tanduay to just 32% shooting from the field. “Nakita naman natin na kahit sino bumabato sa kanila kaya mahirap depensahan. The boys played good defense today.”
Carl Cruz helped spark a 10-0 Cafe France-CEU rally to start the second half to give his team a 38-28 lead. Jaypee Belencion and Pari Llagas were able to stop the rally. Moreover, they combined for 11 third quarter points as Tanduay was only down by just five, 49-44, to enter the final frame.
Von Pessumal led the Tanduay charge that tied the game at 51-all early in the fourth quarter. Lucas Tagarda was able to find Tanduay’s sharpshooter for a wide-open triple to 44 seconds into the quarter. A technical free throw by Pessumal, after a T was called on Macaray for pointing at the referee, and a split by Aaron Jeruta tied the game with 7:19 left.
However, Mon Abundo gained the hot hand afterwards. Abondo scored seven points, including a triple, in a 13-5 rally that gave the Bakers a 64-56 lead with 42.5 ticks left. On the other end, Abundo was able to limit Pessumal as he locked down on him and forced the former Ateneo Blue Eagle to contested shots. Cafe France-CEU was able to take the win 65-58.
“Abundo was a factor on offense but he also stopped Pessumal. Yun yung pinakamalaking factor dun,” Macaraya said about Abundo. Abundo had nine points in the game, seven coming in the fourth quarter. He was also able to grab six boards. “When Pessumal was making his threes, we switched up the defense to Samboy De Leon and Abondo.”
Ebondo also had a monstrous double-double for the Bakers with 14 points and 25 boards. Manlangit added 11 points.
For Tanduay, Pari Llagas had 13 points on 6/8 shooting but was only able to grab three rebounds. Pessumal added 13 markers but was just 3/9 from the field.
Game Two of this series is set to be played on Tuesday, March 29 at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan City.
Cafe France (65) – Ebondo 14, Manlangit 11, Cruz 10, Abundo 9, Villahermosa 9, De Leon 6, Jeruta 6, Arim 0, Casino 0, Celso 0, Opiso 0, Zamar 0.
Tanduay (58) – Llagas 13, Pessumal 13, Belencion 11, Javillonar 6, Celda 4, Eriobu 3, Lingganay 3, Santos 3, Wetherell 2, Acuna 0, Tagarda 0.
Quarterscores: 18-16, 32-28, 49-44, 65-58.