Ebondo sends Cafe France to D-League title

Ivan Saldajeno
By Ivan Saldajeno

PASIG—Rodrigue Ebondo scored the marginal basket as Cafe France became the PBA D-League Foundation Cup champion with a hard-fought 56-55 win over Hapee in the second tier league's first Final Game 3 at the Ynares Sports Arena on Thursday.

Ebondo drove to the basket and scored the go-ahead layup with 1.8 seconds left to save the Bakers from a near-collapse to the Fresh Fighters, who played undermanned as Coach Ronnie Magsanoc opted to give his San Beda players a rest ahead of their NCAA game against Mapua on Saturday.

Leading 33-27 at halftime, Cafe France opened the third quarter with six straight points to open a 12-point cushion, 39-27.

But Hapee slowly crawled back and eventually tied the game, 52-all, on a Troy Rosario shot with 2:23 remaining.

Jam Cortes hit a field goal to put the Bakers back up, 54-52, with 1:46 left, but the Fresh Fighters hung tough and a Nico Elorde triple gave them the lead, 55-54, with 45.7 seconds left.

Hapee got the ball back as Troy Rosario blocked Ebondo and forced him to the last touch with 30.4 seconds remaining.

But Ebondo recovered by blocking Chris Newsome's layup and forced him to a 24-second infraction, leaving 5.9 seconds on the clock.

In the final play, Ebondo muscled his way through and hit the game-winner. Newsome missed a desperation heave from halfcourt at the final buzzer.

The crucial basket capped a monster game by Ebondo as he tallied 18 points, 11 rebounds, seven blocks, and one steal.

Elorde had a near double-double with 12 markers and nine boards.

Box Scores:

Cafe France 56-Ebondo 18, De Leon 7, Ahanmisi 7, Sedurifa 7, Poligrates 6, Cortes 4, Galanza 3, Abundo 2, Andrada 2, Jeruta 0, Batino 0, Miranda 0

Hapee 55-Elorde 12, Villahermosa 11, Newsome 8, Rosario 8, Mendoza 7, Romero 5, Gamboa 4, Thompson 0

Quarterscores: 15-14, 33-27, 43-41, 56-55