Celso steps up as undermanned Cafe France overpowers also-ran Wangs Basketball
Joseph Celso comes up with 14 points and eight rebounds for Cafe France as Rod Ebondo sat out the game and Maverick Ahanmisi played limited minutes. Dante Peralta

CAFÉ France finished the elimination round on a strong note, beating Wangs Basketball, 68-50, on Monday in the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup at The Arena in San Juan.

The Bakers ended up in third place with a 9-2 win-loss slate heading into the quarterfinals where the Bakers will hold a twice-to-beat incentive for the first time in franchise history.

“At least marunong na sila manalo. May character na sila na ayaw magpatalo,” said an elated Café France head coach Egay Macaraya.

The Bakers won despite missing Rodrigue Ebondo due to an ankle injury. The team’s top scorer Maverick Ahanmisi only played 11 minutes as he is also nursing a sprained ankle.

But Joseph Celso stepped up and finished with 14 points and eight rebounds. Joseph Sedurifa also added 14 for the Bakers, who held a commanding 21-8 lead at the end of the first period.

The third-seeded Bakers are still waiting for their quarterfinal opponent, with Breadstory-Lyceum and Tanduay Light battling for the sixth and final berth in the playoffs.

Wangs dropped out of contention for the quarterfinals with a 2-8 card.

The scores:

Café France (68)—Celso 14, Sedurifa 14, Galanza 9, Huertas 6, Noble 6, Andrada 6, Batino 5, Ahanmisi 3, Abundo 2, Cortes 2, Jeruta 1, De Leon 0.

Wangs Basketball (50)—Acosta 17, Montuano 9, Pontejos 7, Miranda 7, Morillo 5, Morales 3, Montemayor 2, Purdy 0, Acuna 0, Arambulo 0, Lina 0.

Quarterscores: 21-8; 35-21; 51-37; 68-50.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @reubensports