HAPEE reached the finals in its maiden stint in the PBA D-League with a 69-56 victory over Café France on Monday in the Aspirants Cup semifinals at The Arena in San Juan.
Bobby Ray Parks dished out an all-around performance with 19 points, eight rebounds, five assists, and two steals to power Hapee to a sweep of the best-of-three semifinal series.
Garvo Lanete had 12 points and combined with Parks for 13 markers in the pivotal third period.
After enjoying success in the Philippine Basketball League (PBL), the Lamoiyan franchise went on a six-year break from top-level basketball, but entered the finals in its first try after taking the place of NLEX in the developmental league.
Although Hapee had a slow start in Game Two, leading by only 36-35 at halftime, the Fresh Fighters turned up the heat in the third and outscored the Bakers, 18-9.
“I thought the players were too excited sa umpisa. And I felt that Café France took advantage of that,” said Hapee coach Ronnie Magsanoc.
“Minsan kapag player ka, gusto mo na tapusin. Kaya nung halftime break, I gave them a chance to think clearly and take away that baggage of immediately winning,” Magsanoc said.
After a 9-2 win-loss slate in the elimination round, third-seed Café France lost three of its last four outings.
Samboy De Leon had 13 of his 15 points in the first period, while Maverick Ahanmisi added 12 for the Bakers.
Hapee (69) — Parks 19, Adeogun 12, Lanete 12, Rosario 7, Newsome 7, Dela Cruz 4, Amer 2, Elorde 2, Long 2, Hayes 2.
Café France (56) — De Leon 15, Ahanmisi 12, Alolino 7, Ebondo 7, Cortes 6, Galanza 4, Sedurifa 4, Batino 1, Jeruta 0, Celso 0, Abundo 0, Noble 0, Andrada 0.
Quarterscores: 17-20; 36-35; 53-45; 69-56.