Cafe France secures first finals seat after romping Tanduay

By Ivan Saldajeno

SAN JUAN, MM--Cafe France-CEU moves on to the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup Finals after completing its semifinal sweep of Tanduay via a 72-63 Game 2 win on Tuesday at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

The Bakers withstood a dry third quarter and kept their composure against a gritty Rhum Masters squad looking to extend the best-of-three series to sudden death.

Cafe France appeared to be pulling away after opening a 43-28 halftime lead, but Tanduay limited the reigning Foundation Cup champion to only eight points in the third quarter and came to within seven, 44-51.

The Rhum Masters started the fourth period with an 8-0 run to take the lead, 52-51, with 8:10 remaining before engaging in a seesaw battle with the Bakers later in the quarter.

But a crucial 10-0 rally in the final 1:07 of the game was all Cafe France needed to repulse Tanduay to make its second straight finals appearance.

Samboy De Leon made 13 points capped by a dagger three with 31.3 seconds left, while Rod Ebondo also tallied 13 points along with 12 rebounds, a block, and a steal for the Bakers, who only committed seven turnovers all game long.

Rudy Lingganay flirted with a triple-double after finishing with 17 points, nine rebounds, and seven assists with one steal for the Rhum Masters, who got little help from their support crew.

Box Scores:

Cafe France-CEU 72-Ebondo 13, De Leon 13, Abundo 12, Cruz 10, Zamar 9, Jeruta 9, Opiso 5, Casiño 1, Manlangit 0, Villahermosa 0

Tanduay 63-Lingganay 17, Acuña 14, Santos 9, Tagarda 8, Llagas 7, Pessumal 5, Belencion 3, Javillonar 0, Ceñal 0, Wetherell 0, Belleza 0

Quarterscores: 19-16, 43-28, 51-44, 72-63

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