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    Hapee one win away from back-to-back D-League titles after downing Cafe France in Game One

    Jun 18, 2015
    Baser Amer and the Fresh Fighters survive a fourth-quarter surge from the Bakers. Jerome Ascano

    A FULL-FORCE Hapee thwarted a resolute Café France, 83-72, on Thursday to move on the cusp of the PBA D-League Foundation Cup championship.

    Boosted by the return of Gilas cadets Troy Rosario, Baser Amer, and Scottie Thompson, the Fresh Fighters pounced on the Bakers’ paltry point-blank shooting, then mainstay Chris Newsome spearheaded their running game to draw first blood in the best-of-three series.

    The reigning Aspirants’ Cup titlists can capture a second straight crown with a win in Game Two on Monday.

    “We’re just one step ahead of them, but there’s a lot of work to be done,” Fresh Fighters coach Ronnie Magsanoc said.

    Hapee’s hard work was evident in the opener as the powerhouse squad banked on a stingy defense that limited the Bakers to just 35 percent (28-of-81) shooting that fuelled their transition offense, ending up with 18 fastbreak points.

    Newsome finished the Fresh Fighters’ several fastbreak plays to wound up with an all-around 18 points, seven boards, five assists, and one block in 33 minutes.

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    Rosario, Amer, and Thompson combined for 17 points in the final frame as the Gilas cadets trio surpassed the Bakers’ entire output by one in the entire quarter to break away from a nip-and-tuck affair.

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    Ola Adeogun led the fight early, scoring all his 11 points in the first half before having the luxury to rest the entire second half due to a hamstring injury as the SEA Games gold medalists took over.

    Jam Cortes fired a team-high 15 points for Café France, but was held to two markers in the second half, while Samboy de Leon added 11 points, including six on back-to-back treys that put the Bakers within 76-72 with a little over a minute left in a rally that fell short.

    The scores:

    HAPEE 83 – Newsome 18, Adeogun 12, Amer 11, Rosario 11, Thompson 10, Dela Cruz 9, Villahermosa 6, Romero 4, Mendoza 2, Elorde 0

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    CAFÉ FRANCE – 72 - Cortez 15, De Leon 11, Miranda 11, Poligrates 10, Sedurifa 9, Ahanmisi 7, Ebondo 5, Abundo 2, Andrada 2, Jeruta 0, Batino 0

    Quarterscores: 23-22, 38-37, 60-56, 83-72

    WATCH the interview with Hapee coach Ronnie Magsanoc after the game:

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    Baser Amer and the Fresh Fighters survive a fourth-quarter surge from the Bakers. Jerome Ascano
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