Cafe France saves title defense bid, sends semis versus Phoenix to decider


By Ivan Saldajeno

BACOOR--Cafe France-CEU stays as PBA D-League Foundation Cup champion for now.

The Bakers saved their quest for back-to-back titles in the season-ending conference with a 78-68 victory over Phoenix in the other semifinals Game 1 tie at the Strike Gym on Thursday night.

Having to face a twice-to-beat disadvantage in the semifinals against the reigning Aspirants Cup champs, who are the second seeds, third-ranked Cafe France had to erase a deficit that lasted for two and a half quarters before pulling away for good in the fourth quarter.

Rod Ebondo announced his return from flu with 19 points, 18 rebounds, and two blocks for the Bakers, who also had Coach Egay Macaraya back from a one-game ban.

"The boys wanted to win more than Phoenix. Gusto pa nila ng isang laro and everybody stepped up," said Macaraya.

Mac Belo had a game-high 23 points with 11 rebounds for Phoenix, whose hopes of accomplishing a season sweep suddenly got into an early peril.

Box Scores:

Cafe France-CEU 78-Ebondo 19, Cruz 17, Jeruta 13, Abundo 10, Zamar 7, Casino 4, De Leon 4, Manlangit 2, Parala 2, Custodio 0, Opiso 0

Phoenix 68-Belo 23, Tolomia 20, Daquioag 10, Pogoy 7, Andrada 2, Escoto 2, Inigo 2, Jamito 2, Batino 0, Colina 0, Knuttel 0, Mendoza 0, Tamsi 0

Quarterscores: 12-16, 29-34, 55-52, 78-68

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