The Phoenix-Far Easter University Accelerators survived the Cafe France-Centro Escolar University Bakers’ late-game blitz, 82-78, to take Game One of the best-of-five Finals series in the 2016 PBA D-League Aspirants Cup at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
Russel Escoto was the main man for the Accelerators in the early parts of the game in scoring the first six points of his team for an early 8-4 lead. After an early Egay Macaraya timeout, an and-one by Rod Ebondo and a long three by Jayson Opiso cut the lead to just a solitary point 12-11. Needing to put points on the scoreboard, Roger Pogoy stepped up for Phoenix-FEU in going on a personal 5-1 run of his own to give the Accelerators a 17-12 lead to end the opening frame.
The horrendous shooting from downtown continued for the Egay-Macaraya squad. After going just 1/10 from downtown in the first quarter, they repeated that statline in the second quarter. “Ganun talaga e. Yun yung binibigay namin. Pagtumama sila, kasalanan namin pero hindi tumatama kaya lamang kami,” Phoenix-FEU head coach Eric Gonzales said about their perimeter defense that limited the Bakers to just 19% shooting from downtown.
On the other end, Mike Tolomia displayed his excellent floor generalship in the quarter as the Accelerators were able to increase their lead to 12, 41-29, to enter the break.
The Accelerators surged ahead with a 10-2 rally spearheaded by Ed Daquioag. Daquioag scored five in that run highlighted by a bank triple to extend their lead to 20, 51-31. To compound the Bakers problem, they were in the penalty zone as early as the 7:29 mark of the third cantor. The Accelerators lived off the foul stripe in during the rest of the quarter while triples by Tolomia and Daquioag closed the quarter strong for Phoenix-FEU for a 65-50 lead.
Phoenix-FEU maintained their double-digit lead up until the 2:12 mark of the final quarter 79-66. After a Bakers timeout, Paul Zamar was able to score on a triple and the harm for a rare four-point play to cut the lead to single digits, 79-70. A miss by Tolomia then led to a jumper by Mon Abundo while an eight-second violation by Phoenix-FEU led to a long two by JK Casino to cut the lead to just five, 79-74, with 52 ticks remaining.
Misses by Tolomia and Belo led to a rebound for Ebondo who passed to a cutting Zamar. Zamar was then able to connect on two free throws coming from a foul by Tolomia with 18 second remaining. However, two free throws by Daquioag and a split by Russel Escoto was enough to give Phoenix-FEU an 82-78 win.
“Sabi ko nga sa kanila, there’s no such thing as perfect defense, importante perfect effort,” Gonzales said about the grinding win. “Magkakamali at magkakamali talaga, magkaroon lang ng effort.”
Pogoy led all scorers with 18 markers and was able to grab nine boards. “Nakakamatch-up siya sa bigger threes,” Gonzales said about the importance of the Gilas Cadet. “Sa offense, alam naman natin kaya niya kaya na-stretch yung floor.”
Tolomia, even in shooting just 5/21 from the field, had 13 points, seven rebounds, and eigth assists. Escoto and Belo both notched a double-double as well.
For Cafe France, Rod Ebondo paced them with a monstrous double-double with 16 points and 18 boards. Zamar added 12 markers on just 2/11 shooting while Casino had 11 points.
As a team, the Accelerators outrebounded their opponents 61-51. Moreover, they were able to go to the foul stripe 43 times, converting on 30 compared to just 19/29 for the Bakers.
Game Two is set to be played on Tuesday, April 5 at 12:00nn. Venue is set at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan City.
Phoenix-FEU (82) – Pogoy 18, Daquioag 16, Belo 15, Tolomia 13, Escoto Ru. 12, Escoto Ri. 4, Andrada 3, Jose 1, Tamsi 0, Inigo 0, Mendoza 0, Pascual 0.
Cafe France-CEU (78) – Ebondo 16, Zamar 12, Casino 11, Abundo 8, Jeruta 8, Manlangit 8, Opiso 5, Cruz 4, Anunciacion 2, Celso 2, De Leon 2, Villahermosa 0, Arim 0.
Quarterscores: 17-12, 41-29, 65-50, 82-78.