RODRIGUE Ebondo scored on a running shot with 1.8 seconds left as Café France scored a 56-55 win over Hapee to capture the PBA D-League Foundation Cup crown on Thursday at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
His heroics came just after Nico Elorde connected on a three-pointer with 5.9 seconds to play that gave Hapee a 55-54 advantage, the only lead for the Aspirants Cup champions in the game.
Ebondo, however, had a quick response, scoring on a difficult runner off the glass, sending Café France players and its fans in the stands in delirious celebration.
Chris Newsome’s desperation three-pointer was swatted away as the Bakers clinched the first PBA D-League crown in franchise history.
Ebondo finished with 18 points, 11 rebounds, and seven blocks to lead the Bakers, who completed a comeback from a game down in the best-of-three finals.
“Pinaghirapan namin ito for three years. We had the right ingredients and the right players,” said Café France coach Egay Macaraya.
Café France was in control for almost the entire game, leading by as many as 12 points. The Bakers nearly squandered the lead when the Fresh Fighters finally broke through with a triple by Elorde.
The Fresh Fighters’ celebration, however, was short lived.
Macaraya said there was no question about going to Ebondo on the final play.
“He wanted the ball and he wanted to win,” said Macaraya.
Elorde had 12 points while Mar Villahermosa had 11 points for the Fresh Fighters, who didn’t field their San Beda players Baser Amer, Ola Adeogun, Art Dela Cruz, Ryusei Koga, and Michole Sorela in the title decider.
Café France (56) — Ebondo 18, De Leon 7, Ahanmisi 7, Sedurifa 7, Poligrates 6, Cortes 4, Galanza 3, Abundo 2, Andrada 2, Jeruta 0, Miranda 0, Batino 0.
Hapee (55) — Elorde 12, Villahermosa 11, Newsome 8, Rosario 8, Mendoza 7, Romero 5, Gamboa 4, Thompson 0.
Quarterscores: 15-14; 33-27; 43-41; 56-55.