Racal gains outright semis berth with squeaker over Café France
Allan Mangahas and four other Tile Masters scored in double figures. Dante Peralta

RACAL squandered an eight-point lead in the fourth quarter but recovered just in time to fend off Cafe France, 82-78, on Thursday in the PBA D-League Aspirants' Cup at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.

Rey Nambatac took charge for the Tile Masters with 24 points, including a triple that put them on top for good, 74-71, with 1:19 to go. 

Nambatac also snared seven rebounds to go with two assists, a steal and a block in a stellar performance highlighted by an ankle breaker against Joseph Manlangit late in the third quarter. 

Kent Salado, who sealed the win with a split from the free throw line, added 11 points while Jackson Corpuz, Allan Mangahas, and Sydney Onwubere each had 10 markers.

The Tile Masters gained an outright semifinals berth with a 7-1 win-loss record and by virtue of win-over the other rule against the Bakers. 

Racal will end the elimination round with a match against Cignal-San Beda, which also clinched a seat in the penultimate stage after Racal's victory.

Cafe France fell to a 6-2 card but is assured of a twice-to-beat edge in the quarterfinals. 

"I'm glad we shook off fatigue and tumama yung mga shots namin nung huli," said Racal coach Jerry Codinera. 

Cafe France mounted a 10-2 run late in the fourth period to erase a 69-61 deficit. 

The Bakers made it a nip-and-tuck game after that but went gun shy in the final stretch as the Tile Masters got away with the win behind combined efforts of Nambtatac, Managahas, and Salado. 

Rod Ebondo led Café France with 24 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks, while Paul Desiderio added 19 points.

The scores:

Racal 82  - Nambatac 24, Salado 11, Corpuz 10, Mangahas 10, Onwubere 10, Cabrera 7, Dagangon 3, Torres 3, Flores 2, Gabawan 2, Capacio 0, Gumaru 0, Terso 0.

Café France 78 - Ebondo 24, Desiderio 19, Faundo 13, Calisaan 11, Guinitaran 6, Wamar 3, Casino 2, Arim 0, Baloria 0, Jeruta 0, Manlangit 0, Veron 0.

Quarterscores: 11-15; 30-34; 53-51; 82-78.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @janbballesteros