The Café France-Centro Escolar University Bakers brushed off their early struggles and uncorked a scathing third quarter charge to clip the Victoria Sports-Manuel L. Quezon University Stallions, 95-84, Thursday afternoon at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
The win helps the Bakers keep pace with the Cignal-San Beda HD Hawkeyes for second, while Victoria drop to a 1-5 slate.
Paul Desiderio and Rod Ebondo teamed up in the third quarter as they used a 17-4 tear to recover from a 44-32 halftime deficit and turn it to a 49-48 midway through the frame. That was just half of the 38-point explosion the Bakers fired in the period as they regained control of the ballgame, 70-61, and led by as high as 13, 93-80 with three minutes left to play.
“The boys wanted to win so much that they played erratic. So in the second half, we focused on playing defense and that did the trick for us,” said coach Egay Macaraya, as Café France extended its winning streak to four and improved to 5-1.
Ebondo paced the Bakers with 27 points, 18 rebounds, and five blocks, while Desiderio poured 15 of his 20 markers in that killer third quarter to go with nine boards.
Aaron Jeruta added 11 points, four rebounds, and three assists, while Jeepy Faundo and Rich Guinitaran combined for 20 for Café France, who had to fight back after being down by as much as 14, 44-30 late in the first half.
Robbie Herndon fired 20 points, eight rebounds, and five assists for Victoria Sports, but that still wasn’t enough as it sunk to its fifth defeat in six outings.
Aris Dionisio also had 14 markers and 12 boards in the loss.
The Stallions knocked down nine triples in the game but shot just 35 percent from the field compared to 41 percent for the Bakers. Café France also out-rebounded Victoria Sports, 63-42, that led to a 28-20 advantage in second chance points.
Café France-CEU will have over a week of break before facing AMA on March 6, Monday. Victoria Sports-MLQU, on the other hand, will play Cignal next week, Tuesday, February 28. Both games will be played at the JCSGO Gym in Cubao and are set at 5:00 PM.
Cafe France-CEU (95) — Ebondo 27, Desiderio 20, Jeruta 11, Faundo 10, Guinitaran 10, Manlangit 8, Calisaan 7, Aquino 2, Arim 0, Casino 0, Gabriel 0, Veron 0, Wamar 0.
Victoria Sports-MLQU (84) — Herndon 20, Dionisio 14, Grimaldo 11, Sorela 10, Nicholls 8, Koga 6, Ayonayon 5, Bitoon 4, Lao 4, Ragasa 2, Mag-isa 0.
Quarterscores: 17-21, 32-44, 70-61, 95-84.