Sidney Onwubere capped his long-game brilliance with buzzer-beating trey at the top of the key to lift Racal Ceramica to a pulsating 88-86 win over Café France to take Game 1 of the best-of-three semifinals series of the Philippine Basketball Association D-League Aspirants’ Cup on Tuesday at the Marikina Sports Center in Marikina City.
Onwubere’s game-winner highlighted his 24-point performance as the Tile Masters drew the first blood in the series.
“I am very much happy with how the boys played today. I hope the momentum will stay until we reach our goal,” said Racal coach Jerry Codinera, who also drew 16 and 14 points, respectively, from Kent Salado and Jackson Corpuz.
The Bakers threatened to pull away after John Carlo Casino and Rod Ebondo hit back-to-back treys to give Café France a 77-70 separation with 4:32 left in the game.
But Racal answered with its own 14-6 exchange capped by Allan Mangahas’ corner trey to give the Tile Masters the lead, 84-83.
Ebondo responded with his own triple as the Bakers reclaimed the lead, 86-85 but Onwubere refused to lose and with 1.9 ticks left, he received the inbound pass from Mangahas to nail the game-winner.
Ebondo had a double-double performance with 30 points and 13 rebounds while Paul Desiderio chipped in 17 markers for Cafe France.
The Tile Masters were in control of the game after halftime, 39-34, but Casino hit two straight treys to tie the score at 42-all with eight minutes left in the third period.
It was a see-saw battle since then as Café France erected a 57-51 lead but Racal cut the advantage to one, 59-60, entering the final quarter.
RACAL 88 – Onwubere 24, Salado 16, Corpuz 14, Flores 10, Nambatac 9, Mangahas 7, Torres 3, Dagangon 3, Gabawan 2, Cabrera 0, Capacio 0, Gumaru 0, Gabayani 0, Terso 0.
CAFE FRAMCE 86 – Ebondo 30, Desiderio 17, Casino 13, Sedurifa 9, Calisaan 5, Faundo 4, Wamar Jr. 3, Arim 2, Manlangit 2, Jeruta 1, Aquino 0, Guinitaran 0, Opiso 0, Veron 0.
Quarterscores: 22-20, 39-34, 59-60, 88-86