JUNE Dizon and Paul Zamar hit key baskets late in the game, JR Buensuceso dished out the winning assist, and the Cebuana Lhuillier escaped with a thrilling 81-79 victory over Café France to keep its playoff hopes alive in the PBA D-League Foundation Cup at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
Dizon erupted for 24 points while Zamar had 10 points, including three triples, to lift the Gems to a 5-4 win-loss record and break a two-game skid.
Buensuceso had 12 points and his assist to John Lopez for an unmolested lay-up led Cebuana Lhuillier to the victory. The point guard drove to the basket and found Lopez open for an easy deuce to shatter a 79-79 deadlock with 3.4 seconds remaining in the game.
Mike Silungan, who had earlier tied the match at 79 with a triple, launched a desperation three-pointer but his bank shot didn’t go in.
Dizon gave the Gems the lead with a crucial three-point play that made it 74-73 with 2:43 left. Zamar then converted a triple with 40.5 seconds left to increase Cebuana Lhuillier’s lead to 79-74.
The Gems forced a tie with Café France (5-4) for sixth place but are close behind twice-to-beat-seeking Boracay Rum (5-3), Fruitas (5-3), and EA Regen Medical Group (4-3).
The top two teams will advance to the semifinals outright. The next four teams play in the quarterfinals, with the top two having twice-to-beat advantages.
“Ang hirap manalo ngayon,” said Cebuana Lhuillier coach Beaujing Acot. “Roller coaster kami, hindi namin ma-sustain at maiwasan ’yung mga back-to-back losses. Luckily, they stayed in the game.”
“Doubting na ako as a coach dahil sa back-to-back losses pero ngayon, we still have a chance. Credit to the boys, they really fought for it,” said Acot.
Café France has dropped its last two matches and is in danger of dropping out of the race for the outright semifinal slot.
Silungan added 19 points while Mike Parala finished with 16 markers for Café France.
Cebuana Lhuillier (81) – Dizon 24, Buensuceso 12, Zamar 10, Elinon 8, Martinez 6, Aguilar 5, Lopez 4, Montecastro 3, Sarangay 3, Banal 2, Bautista 2, Chiu 2, Padilla 0, Leynes 0.
Café France (79) – Silungan 19, Parala 16, Magat 9, Knuttel 7, Batino 6, Rogado 6, Lopez 5, Abundo 5, Magbitang 4, Maconocido 2, Cornejo 0.
Quarterscores: 14-18; 35-44; 56-58; 81-79.