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Pogoy buries winner as Phoenix-FEU steals Game 3 from Cafe France

By Ivan Saldajeno

PASIG--The good-sized crowd at the Ynares Sports Arena on Thursday thought they will see another failed comeback as Cafe France-CEU's Rod Ebondo swatted two Phoenix-FEU layups attempts that could have forced overtime in Game 3 of the PBA D-League Aspirant Cup Finals.

But when the ball ended at the hands of RR Pogoy, a breakthrough happened.

Pogoy swished in a long triple with 2.9 seconds left as the Accelerators snatched the win from the Bakers, 85-84, on Thursday.

The 6-2 winger received a pass from Achie Iñigo after the latter collected the loose ball following Ebondo's block on Ed Daquioag and buried the long trey from the right to complete a rally from 11 points down, something Phoenix-FEU failed to accomplish in Game 2 on Tuesday, and take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series.

Cafe France opened the said 11-point cushion twice in the third quarter and was up, 80-71, with 4:07 left in the fourth quarter.

But a three-point play from Daquioag plus another basket by Iñigo drew Phoenix-FEU to within four, 76-80, with three minutes to go.

Samboy De Leon made two charities to extend the lead back to six, but another Daquioag layup plus two free throws from Richard Escoto trimmed the gap to two, 82-80, with 2:06 remaining, setting up the wild finish.

After a string of misses from both clubs, Alvin Abundo finally nailed one with 32.2 seconds left to give the Bakers an 84-80 lead.

But Mike Tolomia answered with a quick but tough lay-in that again slashed the advantage to just two with 24.5 seconds left.

The Accelerators failed to steal the ball from Carl Cruz and instead fouled him with 19.4 seconds left.

The FEU alumnus, however, kept his former team alive as he muffed his two free throws.

Ebondo went on his defensive prowess by blocking Tolomia's layup and the ensuing follow-up by Daquioag.

But Iñigo found himself with the ball after the blocks and handed it to Pogoy, who wasted no time in shooting the game-winner.

Abundo's desperation heave from three-quarter court was way off at the buzzer.

Pogoy finished with a double-double of ten points and 12 rebounds along with three assists, a steal, and a block for the Accelerators, who can clinch the title as soon as Tuesday in Game 4 at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

He actually had an off day in field goals, only making four of 21 shots and one of seven triples, but the lone made trey turned out to be the most important shot of the match.

Mac Belo, getting a start on Thursday unlike his supersub role for most of the conference, led them with 22 points, seven rebounds, one assist, and two steals.

The dagger triple put to waste another explosion from Ebondo, who ended up with 18 points, 18 rebounds, four assists, and four blocks.

Box Scores:

Phoenix-FEU 85-Belo 22, Daquioag 20, Iñigo 15, Pogoy 10, Tolomia 8, Andrada 5, Ri. Escoto 5, Ru. Escoto 0, Jose 0, Mendoza 0, Pascual 0, Tamsi 0, Lee Yu 0

Cafe France-CEU 84-Ebondo 18, Zamar 12, De Leon 11, Villahermosa 10, Cruz 9, Casiño 7, Jeruta 6, Manlangit 5, Celso 4, Abundo 2, Anunciacion 0, Arim 0, Guinitaran 0, Opiso 0

Quarterscores: 18-17, 35-37, 61-68, 85-84

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno