CAFÉ France stuck to what it does best as it frustrated Phoenix, 83-74, to clinch the top seed in the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup quarterfinals on Thursday at the Ynares Arena in Pasig.
The Bakers engaged the offensive powerhouse Accelerators to a defensive, grind-out battle before breaking away down the stretch to notch a second straight win and seventh overall in eight games.
Phoenix was held to under 80 points after averaging 97.5 points in their first six games as they wound up absorbing only their second loss in seven games, but remained in third spot.
Rodrigue Ebondo towed the Bakers on offense as the Congolese big man scattered 26 points and 19 boards.
“It’s a good motivation and morale for the quarterfinals,” Bakers coach Egay Macaraya said. “Seeding lang naman ‘to, but the boys played well and they didn’t want to lose.”
The Bakers’ desire, especially on the defensive end, manifested on Phoenix star Mac Belo, who wound up with just six points on six shots, as well as Mike Tolomia, who was limited to just nine points on 3-of-12 shooting. Ed Daquioag, still recovering from a sprain, was also off target with just five points.
Alfrancis Tamsi was the only player who scored in twin digits for the Accelerators, who shot 38 percent from the field as a unit as they missed Roger Pogoy and Reymar Jose to injuries.
CAFÉ FRANCE 83 – Ebondo 26, Villahermosa 13, Cruz 11, De Leon 11, Abundo 10, Jeruta 5, Opiso 3, Manlangit 2, Zamar 2, Anunciacion 0, Arim 0, Casino 0, Celso 0, Guinitaran 0
PHOENIX 74 – Tamsi 17, Tolomia 9, Mendoza 7, Pascual 7, Andrada 6, Belo 6, Escoto Ri. 5, Daquioag 5, Escoto Ru. 4, Inigo 4, Yu 2, Elmejrab 0, Jose 0, Pogoy 0
Quarterscores: 15-18, 41-43, 65-58, 83-74