CAFÉ France bucked a slow start to frustrate Cagayan Gerry’s, 78-65, in the Foundation Cup on Monday at the Ynares Arena in Pasig and move on the verge of making it to the D-League finals for the first time.
The Bakers trailed in the first quarter, but turned the game around in the second behind a solid defense and never looked back on the way to gaining the upper hand in the best-of-three series.
Rodrigue Ebondo was a force down low with 19 points, 13 boards, four blocks, and three steals in 27 minutes, while Maverick Ahanmis proved solid as well as he added 11 points, 10 rebounds, three steals, and two assists for Café France.
“We took care of the ball and that meant less turnovers which allowed us to set our defense,” Bakers coach Egay Macaraya said. “We were also able to stop their running game.”
The Bakers committed 15 errors, five less than the Rising Suns and limited their opponents to a paltry 27.9 percent (19-of-68) shooting.
Michael Mabulac was one of the few bright spots for the Rising Suns as the former Jose Rizal University stalwart tallied 15 points and 12 caroms as Don Trollano, a usual double-digit scorer, was held to three points, missing all but one of his six shots.
Cafe France can finish off Cagayan in Game Two on Thursday.
Café France 78 – Ebondo 19, Ahanmisi 11, Miranda 9, De Leon 8, Noble 8, Cortez 8, Poligrates 8, Abundo 4, Batino 2, Jeruta 1, Galanza 0, Sedurifa 0, Andrada 0.
Cagayan Gerry's 65 – Mabulac 15, Melano 14, Galliguez 10, Celada 8, Austria 6, Tayongtong 6, Trollano 3, Flores 2, Dilay 1, Salamat 0, Santos 0, Magat 0.
Quarterscores: 15-16; 43-33; 60-51; 78-65.