CAFÉ France proved up to the task anew as it cruised past Cagayan Valley, 92-78, on Thursday to clinch a first-ever finals berth in the PBA D-League Foundation Cup at the Ynares Arena in Pasig.
Samboy de Leon and Eloy Poligrates led a fourth-quarter breakaway for the Bakers, who completed a sweep of the best-of-three semifinal series following a 78-65 win in the opener on Monday.
De Leon, the Centro Escolar University sniper, and Poligrates, the journeyman eager to get back in the PBA after a short stint in the pros, combined for 18 points in the payoff period.
Rod Ebondo, who starred for the Bakers in Game One, sustained his solid play as the Congolese big man added 17 points, 18 boards, and two blocks.
“The boys played well and we've reached our second goal,” said Bakers coach Egay Macaraya, whose team’s initial objective was to reach the semis.
“They deserve it for all the hard work that they have done, and everybody really wanted to win today and it showed on the court.”
“Hopefully we can go for the gold.”
The Rising Suns, who played solid even without banned coach Alvin Pua in the final matches of the eliminations and in the quarterfinals, couldn't get going in the round of four.
Cagayan Valley trailed most of the first half, threatened in the third period where they briefly took the lead, only to succumb to the Bakers in crunch time.
Abel Galliguez fired a team-high 14 points, including six on back-to-back triples that nudged the Rising Suns to within 79-72 halfway through the final frame, before the Bakers went on that telling run.
Cafe France 92 – De Leon 23, Poligrates 22, Ebondo 17, Ahanmisi 10, Cortez 10, Abundo 4, Galanza 2, Sedurifa 2, Andrada 2, Miranda 0, Noble 0, Batino 0
Cagayan Gerry's 78 – Galliguez 14, Salamat 12, Celada 12, Flores 8, Mabulac 8, Magat 8, Trollano 7, Rogado 5, Austria 2, Santos 2, Melano 0, Tayongtong 0
Quarterscores: 21-15; 42-35; 61-55; 92-78