Nambatac leads Racal's final strike on Cafe France en route to outright semis spot


By Dugout Philippines

PASIG--Rey Nambatac towed Racal to the semifinals with a gutsy 82-78 win over Cafe France Thursday in the 2017 PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup at Ynares Sports Arena.

The Letran swingman provided the big plays down the stretch as he unloaded eight of his 24 points in the fourth quarter, including the pivotal assist to Jackson Corpuz in the final 59.2 seconds to secure the Tile Masters in the top two and rise to a 7-1 record. He also got seven rebounds, and two assists.

But it’s not just Nambatac, as the whole Racal squad chipped in and made significant contributions for the team.

Kent Salado chimed 12 markers, eight boards, and three assists, while Corpuz registered a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds.

Sidney Onwubere notched 10 markers, eight coming in the fourth period, to go with six assists, and three boards, and Allan Mangahas had 10, none bigger than his dagger three to give the Tile Masters a 79-75 lead with 37.2 seconds left.

“I’m glad that we’re able to beat them. They’re really a nightmare matchup against us, but I’m glad that our big man did their roles against (Rod) Ebondo,” said Coach Jerry Codinera.

Racal’s win also propelled Cignal-San Beda (7-1) to an outright semifinals seat, with the two set to battle on Monday for the number one-seed.

“Beating Cignal will give us another boost of confidence going to the playoffs. It’s going to be huge for our chemistry and it’s easier to develop chemistry while winning,” said Codinera.

Racal wasted a 69-61 lead with 4:18 to play as the Rod Ebondo-led Bakers mounted a huge fightback thanks to their 10-2 tear to tie the game at 71.

Paul Desiderio completed a huge four-point play to give Cafe France a 75-74 lead with 1:13 remaining, but Nambatac orchestrated the biggest play of the game with his assist to Corpuz, which was followed by the Mangahas long bob to seal the deal late.

Ebondo topped third-seed Cafe France (6-2) with 24 points, 12 rebounds, and five blocks, while Desiderio had 19 markers, nine boards, and two assists.

Box Scores:

Racal 82-Nambatac 24, Salado 11, Corpuz 10, Mangahas 10, Onwubere 10, Cabrera 7, Dagangon 3, Torres 3, Flores 2, Gabawan 2, Capacio 0, Gumaru 0, Terso 0

Cafe France-CEU 78-Ebondo 24, Desiderio 19, Faundo 13, Calisaan 11, Guinitaran 6, Wamar 3, Casino 2, Arim 0, Baloria 0, Jeruta 0, Manlangit 0, Veron 0

Quarterscores: 11-15, 30-34, 53-51, 82-78

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