Cafe France survives thriller vs Phoenix, sets up do-or-die match for D-League finals slot
Carl Bryan Cruz finished with 17 points and eight rebounds to power Cafe France past Phoenix. Photo from PBA D-League images

BACOOR, Cavite - Cafe France got a new lease on life following a thrilling 78-68 win over Phoenix in the PBA D-League Foundation Cup semifinals on Thursday at the Strike Gym here.

Facing a twice-to-beat disadvantage, the Bakers fought tooth-and-nail with the Accelerators and broke away late in the final quarter to force a rubber match on Tuesday.

The Accelerators simply had no answer to Cafe France's onslaught in the payoff period as they went gunshy in the final two minutes, making only a single field goal. 

Rodrigue Ebondo raked in 19 points and 18 rebounds for the Bakers, but it was Aaron Jeruta who made the key baskets down the stretch. 
Jeruta scored four straight baskets inside the final two minutes to give Cafe France a comfotable 76-66 lead. 
Carl Bryan Cruz and Mon Abundo also chipped in 17 and 10 markers, respectively, for the Bakers. 
But for head coach Egay Macaraya, it was defense that keyed the much-needed victory. 
"They played good defense," said Macaraya. "The boys wanted it more, so everybody stepped up."
Phoenix was paced by Mac Belo's 23 points. Mike Tolomia wound up with 20 points but was a non-factor in the payoff period where he scored just two points. 

The Scores:

CAFE FRANCE 78 - Ebondo 19, Cruz 17, Jeruta 13, Abundo 10, Zamar 7, Casino 4, De Leon 4, Manlangit 2, Parala 2, Custodio 0, Opiso 0.

PHOENIX 68 - Belo 23, Tolomia 20, Daquioag 10, Pogoy 7, Andrada 2, Escoto 2, Inigo 2, Jamito 2, Batino 0, Colina 0, Knuttel 0, Mendoza 0, Tamsi 0.

Quarterscores: 12-16, 29-34, 55-52, 78-68.

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