Phoenix-FEU takes finals opener against Cafe France

By Ivan Saldajeno

PASIG—Phoenix-FEU withstood one final push from Cafe France-CEU to take Game 1 of the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup Finals at the Ynares Sports Arena on Thursday.

Up by as much as 20, the Accelerators built a late 18-point lead that turned out to be enough to turn back the Bakers, who made the game interesting.

Phoenix-FEU took a 76-58 cushion with 4:15 left, but Alvin Abundo, Joseph Celso, and Rod Ebondo sparked an 8-1 Cafe France run to trim the gap to 11 with 2:31 remaining.

Ed Daquioag made two charities to extend the lead back to 13, 79-66, with 2:12 to go only to be countered by a 10-0 run sparked by a four-point play of Paul Zamar that drew the Bakers to within three, 76-79, with 18.1 seconds left.

The rally, however, came a little too late as clutch free throws from Daquioag and Russel Escoto sealed the deal for the Accelerators.

RR Pogoy flirted with a double-double after making 18 points and nine rebounds, while Mike Tolomia even had a triple-double bid with 13 points, seven rebounds, and eight assists along with one block for Phoenix-FEU, which now holds a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five series.

Mac Belo and Escoto got double-doubles on Thursday after finishing with a 15-13 and 12-10 point-rebound outputs respectively with the former adding three blocks and a steal.

Ebondo had another day in the office for Cafe France-CEU with 16 points, 18 boards, and two blocks but did not get good help from Samboy De Leon, who only had two markers, and Mar Villahermosa, who was shut down the entire game.

Box Scores:

Phoenix-FEU 82-Pogoy 18, Daquioag 16, Belo 15, Tolomia 13, Ru. Escoto 12, Ri. Escoto 4, Ri. Escoto 4, Andrada 3, Jose 1, Tamsi 0, Inigo 0, Mendoza 0

Cafe France 78-Ebondo 16, Zamar 12, Casino 11, Abundo 8, Jeruta 8, Manlangit 8, Opiso 5, Cruz 4, De Leon 2, Celso 2, Anunciacion 2, Villahermosa 0, Arim 0

Quarterscores: 17-12, 41-29, 65-50, 82-78

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