Cafe France showed its championship form and fended off Racal, 83-79 for its second win in the 2016 PBA D-League Foundation Cup Thursday at JCSGO Gym in Cubao.
Rod Ebondo carried the Bakers with 15 points and six rebounds despite fouling out with five minutes still left to play.
Aaron Jeruta chipped in 12 markers, four assists, and three boards, while Paul Zamar got 10 to give Cafe France a share of the top spot with Phoenix at 2-0.
“Hinabol nila kami. Nag-go small na and all-CEU, and the boys showed ‘yung character nila na ayaw magpatalo,” said coach Egay Macaraya.
The Bakers took an early 20-1 lead before Philip Paniamogan’s 24 points on a 4-of-7 shooting from threes brought Racal back in the game to set up the thrilling finish.
Without Ebondo in the final five minutes of the game, the Tile Masters staged a late uprising, but Billy Robles missed two freebies which could have tied the game at 78. Jonathan Grey also lost the ball in the ensuing possession to Jeruta as the CEU playmaker gave his side an 80-76 lead with 47.6 remaining.
Paniamogan nailed a triple to make it 80-79, but Jeruta once again nailed a floater as Mon Abundo split his freebies from a Paniamogan deliberate foul with 11.1 ticks left.
Racal had one last chance to pull the come-from-behind win, but Chris Javier was called for a charging foul with 5.5 seconds left as the defending Foundation Cup champs escaped with the win.
Raphael Banal got 13 markers for Racal (1-1), while Grey dropped 10 the loss.
In the first game, Phoenix bucked a slow start and rebounded with a 30-point rout of Topstar ZC Mindanao, 108-78.
Mac Belo showed why he is the 2016 Aspirants’ Cup MVP as he carried his team with 25 points, 18 of which coming in the first half, three rebounds and three steals.
Mike Tolomia also lit up for the Accelerators with 22 markers, five boards, and four assists, while Ed Daquioag got 16 points and five rebounds.
Roger Pogoy and Jens Knuttel both had 10 markers in the blowout.
The Aguilas raced to an 11-0 start before Phoenix slowly came back and pounded Topstar ZC Mindanao in the second half to score the huge rout.
“Hindi kami nagkulang sa paalala sa players na there will be teams na kung titingnan mo, mukhang walang ibubuga pero basketball players pa rin yan,” said Phoenix coach Eric Gonzales. “We better be consistent. ‘Yun lang ang ine-emphasize namin sa nga players. ‘Yun na lang kasi ang gusto naming makita sa mga players, ‘yung consistency nila.”
Assistant coach Richie Ticzon called the shots for Gonzales as he recovered from a severe headache.
Choi Ignacio paced the still winless Aguilas with 14 points.