CAFÉ France stormed back from a 24-point deficit and beat Caida Tiles, 90-87, on Thursday in a battle of undefeated teams to grab the solo lead in the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
Carl Bryan Cruz, Paul Zamar, and Cameroon’s Rodrigue Ebondo combined for 69 points as the Bakers took solo lead with a 4-0 record.
It appeared bleak for the Bakers when they trailed 52-28 in the second period, but the three took turns in hitting big shots, with Ebondo scoring 10 in the third quarter to tie the game at 67 entering the fourth.
Cruz and Zamar took over in the fourth with a combined 20 points.
Zamar hit a basket that put the Bakers ahead, 85-77, while Cruz converted a turnaround jumper for a 90-86 lead with 1:09 left.
Caida Tiles closed in at 90-87 but Philip Paniamogan failed to convert on two three-point attempts.
Café France coach Egay Macaraya was glad his team didn’t succumb to pressure.
“We are a new team. Nakita natin ngayon na I just have eight guys who can play this kind of basketball. At least, the team showed heart and they showed that even if it’s a new team, it’s a champion team,” said Macaraya.
Caida slipped to third spot at 3-1 with Phoenix Petroleum-Far Eastern University, the only other unbeaten team in the conference, moving to second at 3-0.
Café France 90 — Cruz 26, Zamar 25, Ebondo 18, Jeruta 9, De Leon 8, Villahermosa 3, Manlangit 1, Abundo 0, Arim 0, Casino 0, Celso 0, Opiso 0.
Caida Tiles 87 — Paniamogan 15, Nambatac 13, Perkins 12, Cabrera 11, Jalalon 9, Lozada 7, Grey 6, Javier 6, Corpuz 2, Gabawan 2, Maiquez 2, Robles 2, Terso 0.
Quarterscores: 24-23; 40-56; 67-67; 90-87.