Hapee closes in on D-League grand slam with finals opener win versus Cafe France

By Ivan Saldajeno

PASIG--Hapee moved to within a win from the PBA D-League Foundation Cup championship after beating Cafe France, 83-72, in Game 1 of their finals showdown at the Ynares Sports Arena on Thursday.

The returning Baser Amer fired a dagger triple with 42 seconds left to ice the game for the Fresh Fighters.

Engaging in a close contest against the Bakers for most of the game, the Fresh Fighters appeared to be pulling away after opening a ten-point advantage, 74-64, with 2:10 remaining.

But a jumper from Maverick Ahanmisi and back-to-back triples from Samboy De Leon highlighted an 8-2 Bakers run to cut the lead to just four, 76-72, with 1:06 to go.

Amer's three-pointer, however, sparked the game-ending 7-0 run for Hapee to seal the victory.

Amer finished with 11 points, six rebounds, and four assists even as fellow SEA Games gold medalists Troy Rosario and Scottie Thompson tallied 11-6-3 and 10-7-3 statlines respectively. Chris Newsome was the high-point man for the Fresh Fighters with 18 points along with seven rebounds and five assists.

Jam Cortez led the Bakers with 15 points, seven rebounds, one assist, and two steals.

Hapee, which won the previous Aspirants' Cup, can complete the D-League double as early as Monday with a Game 2 win at the same venue. Should Cafe France take the said game, the rubber match will be played next Thursday.

Box Scores:

Hapee 83–Newsome 18, Adeogun 12, Amer 11, Rosario 11, Thompson 10, Dela Cruz 9, Villahermosa 6, Romero 4, Mendoza 2, Elorde 0

Cafe France 72–Cortez 15, De Leon 11, Miranda 11, Poligrates 10, Sedurifa 9, Ahanmisi 7, Ebondo 5, Abundo 2, Andrada 2, Jeruta 0, Batino 0

Quarterscores: 23-22, 38-37, 60-56, 83-72