The Cafe France-CEU Bakers maintained their unblemished streak in the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup after a dominant 94-73 win over UP-QRS-Jam Liner Thursday at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.
The Bakers had five players in double-digits to move to joint leadership with Caida Tiles (3-0), while putting an end to their opponent’s erstwhile unbeaten run. UP-QRS-Jam Liner dropped to second spot in the team standings at 2-1.
“The boys played very well,” said Bakers head coach Egay Macaraya. “We had a great start executing our game plan and bigla nawala yung laro ng UP.”
Rodrigue Ebondo notched a double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds, while Carl Cruz topscored for the team with 15 points. The Bakers shot 38% from three-point area and forced 18 turnovers from the UP-QRS side.
Samboy De Leon and Mar Villahermosa joined hands in a furious start for the Bakers, scoring nine in an 11-0 run to open the match.
Cafe France were relentless too on defense, forcing UP-QRS-Jam Liner to commit contested shots and in turn, run in transition for more scoring opportunities.
Kevin Ferrer finally broke the dry spell for UP-QRS-Jam Liner with an and-one play and a three to cut the Cafe France lead down to 11-6, but the Bakers responded with an 18-6 run to end the first quarter comfortably ahead, 29-12.
Five straight points from De Leon later in the second frame pushed the advantage up to 44-25, before UP-QRS-Jam Liner slowly cut the deficit.
Dave Moralde scored back-to-back baskets as his team fired eight unanswered points to pull within 44-33. However, seven straight free throws by the Bakers extended the lead entering the break, 51-35.
From there it was all Cafe France, who showed more cohesion and teamwork on both ends of the floor in the second half. Ebondo dropped eight in the third period alone, terrorizing their opponents in the interior.
But Macaraya is wary; UP-QRS-Jam Liner are one of the teams to beat, and they would be a better group in the latter stages of the tournament given the composition of the team.
“I think UP, they relaxed eh. They are one of the teams to beat who I am sure will make the final four. I was not expecting yung laro nila na maging ganon. Maybe nagrerelax lang, hindi natin alam,” Macaraya shared.
Raymond Aguilar paced Jam Liner with 14 points and 12 boards, while Kevin Ferrer and Juneric Baloria chipped in 13 and 12 points, respectively.
The Bakers mentor added that in spite of a 3-0 record, the team cannot be complacent as they will be facing more contenders.
“Next game, Caida. Napakalakas. Hopefully the boys play better the next game.”
Cafe France (94) – Cruz 15, Ebondo 14, De Leon 14, Zamar 11, Abundo 10, Opiso 6, Villahermosa 6, Jeruta 5, Manlangit 5, Celso 4, Arim 2, Casino 2, Anunciacion 0.
QRS/Jam Liner (73) – Aguilar 14, Ferrer 13, Baloria 12, Alolino 7, Batino 6, Moralde 5, Soyud 5, Dario 4, Neypes 3, Asilum 2, Desiderio 2, Sorela 0, Vito 0.
Quarterscores: 29-12, 51-35, 80-57, 94-73.