Phoenix survives late CafeFrance rally to draw first blood in Aspirants Cup finals
Roger Pogoy whows the way for Phoenix with 18 points. Jerome Ascano

PHOENIX Petroleum-Far Eastern University leaned on RR Pogoy as it survived a late rally by CafeFrance-Centro Escolar University, 82-78, on Thursday to draw first blood of the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup finals at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.

Pogoy showed the way with 18 points and nine rebounds for the Accelerators, who never trailed in the finals series opener.

Game Two of the best-of-five finals on Tuesday, 12 p.m. at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.

Pogoy had 11 points in the first half for the Accelerators, who also limited the Bakers to only 26 percent from the field in the first two quarters. Phoenix also outrebounded CafeFrance in the first half, 33-22.

“Sabi ko nga sa kanila, there is no such thing as perfect defense. Ang importante, perfect effort,” said Phoenix Petroleum coach Eric Gonzales. “Magkakamali’t magkakamali pero ang importante, hindi nawawala ‘yung effort.”

There were anxious moments late in the game when a spirited rally allowed CafeFrance to close in with a three-point gap, 79-76, with 18.6 seconds left to play in the fourth but Phoenix Petroleum held on by making crucial charities.

“Ineexpect naman namin ‘yun,” said Gonzales about CafeFrance’s comeback bid. “Pero siyempre, ang importante, ‘wag lang hihinto.”

Ed Daquioag had 16 points, while Mac Belo had a double-double of 15 points and 13 rebounds for the Accelerators. Mike Tolomia had an all-around play by contributing 13 points, seven rebounds, and eight assists.

CafeFrance trailed by as many as 20 points, 51-31, in the third period.

Rodrigue Ebondo had 16 points and 18 rebounds, while Paul Zamar, who engineered CafeFrance’s late run, had 12 points including eight in the final canto. John Carlo Casino chipped in 11 for the Bakers.

The scores:

Phoenix Petroleum 82 — Pogoy 18, Daquioag 16, Belo 15, Tolomia 13, Ru. Escoto 12, Ri. Escoto 4, Andrada 3, Jose 1, Inigo 0, Mendoza 0, Pascual 0, Tamsi 0.

CafeFrance 78 — Ebondo 16, Zamar 12, Casino 11, Abundo 8, Jeruta 8, Manlangit 8, Opiso 5, Cruz 4, Anunciacion 2, Celso 2, De Leon 2, Arim 0, Villahermosa 0.

Quarters: 17-12; 41-29; 65-50; 82-78.

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