Cafe France forces historic D-League Finals Game 3

By Ivan Saldajeno

PASIG—Cafe France just forced a first in PBA D-League history.

Cafe France brought the Foundation Cup Finals to a rubber match after a 76-70 Game 2 win against Hapee at the Ynares Sports Arena on Monday.

The Bakers, who led from the get-go, began a potential rout in the first quarter, scoring nine unanswered points to open a 12-point cushion, 19-7, late in the first quarter.

The lead immediately ballooned to 18, 43-25, in the second period and appeared to be cruising to an easy win.

But the Fresh Fighters began a late game charge as Chris Newsome helped ignite a 12-4 run that cut the Bakers' lead to just six, 66-60, with 6:13 left in the game.

Cafe France made another breakaway threat as a 7-2 run extended its lead to 11, 73-62, with 2:51 remaining.

Hapee still kept the match interesting as five straight points capped by a three-point play by Newsome trimmed the gap anew to six, 73-67, with 1:34 to go. The team tried to inch closer, but Newsome threw a bad pass, leading to an Eloy Poligrates steal.

Cafe France, however, failed to put the game away at first as Hapee's pressure defense forced a ball-handling violation on Aaron Jeruta with 46.7 seconds remaining.

Hapee again missed out on a chance to further cut the lead as Scottie Thompson missed a three-pointer, and Poligrates scored a clutch layup with 15.5 seconds left to stretch the lead to eight, 75-67.

The Fresh Fighters still did not give up as Troy Rosario made a trey to pull to within five, 70-75, with 8.9 seconds left.

Jam Cortes missed out on another chance to seal the win for the Bakers as he missed two charities with 8.3 seconds remaining, but Rodrigue Ebondo grabbed the loose ball and finally iced the match with a free throw with 6.8 ticks on the clock.

Samboy De Leon made 14 points on 3-of-6 shooting from beyond the arc and two rebounds, while Ebondo added a double-double of ten markers and ten boards along with two blocks for Cafe France, which set the D-League's first ever Finals Game 3 on Thursday.

Newsome led Hapee, which failed to complete a sweep of the best-of-three series, with 15 points, ten rebounds, and three assists even as Arth Dela Cruz had his own double-double with 14 markers and ten boards with four dimes and three steals before leaving the match with a hyperextended left knee at the 2:51 mark of the fourth.

Box Scores:

Cafe France 76-De Leon 14, Batino 11, Ebondo 10, Sedurifa 9, Jeruta 8, Abundo 8, Poligrates 8, Ahanmisi 7, Cortes 1, Miranda 0, Galanza 0, Andrada 0, Noble 0

Hapee 70-Newsome 15, Dela Cruz 14, Rosario 13, Thompson 9, Elorde 6, Romero 5, Amer 3, Mendoza 3, Sorela 2, Villahermosa 0, Koga 0, Gamboa 0

Quarterscores: 21-12, 45-30, 62-48, 76-70