Racal beats Cafe France in thrilling Game Three to reach first PBA D-League finals
Racal's Rey Nambatac tries to elude two Cafe France defenders in Game Three. Dante Peralta

ALLAN Mangahas and Jackson Corpuz came up big in the clutch as Racal nipped Cafe France, 78-74 to clinch the first finals berth in the PBA D-League Aspirants's Cup on Tuesday at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.

Mangahas finished with 15 points built on five three-pointers, none bigger than the game-winning triple with 4.3 ticks to go.

Before that, Corpuz scored five straight points in the final two minutes to put the team ahead for good, 75-72.

Corpuz, who was relatively quiet in the first three quarters, had nine points with two rebounds.

It was Racal's first finals appearance since it joined the developmental league in 2014. 

"I just trusted them. Buti na lang I picked the right people in the endgame," said Racal coach Jerry Codinera, whose team will face either Tanduay or Cignal-San Beda in the finals which begins on Thursday.

Racal gained steam in the final period on an 11-2 run capped by three consecutive triples by Mangahas to go up by 10, 62-52. 

But Cafe France refused to go down without a fight, with Rod Ebondo sinking two free throws that tied the game at 69-all.

It was a nip-and-tuck battle after that until Corpuz and Mangahas lit up down the stretch.

Kent Salado and Rey Nambatac added 16 and 11 points, respectively, for Racal.

Meanwhile, the Bakers relied heavily anew on Ebondo, who finished with 26 points, 20 rebounds, and two blocks.

Paul Desiderio chipped in 16 points.

The Scores:

RACAL 78 – Salado 16, Mangahas 15, Nambatac 11, Onwubere 10, Corpuz 9, Capacio 5, Dagangon 5, Cabrera 5, Flores 2, Torres 0, Gabawan 0, Terso 0, Gabayni 0

CAFEFRANCE 74 – Ebondo 26, Desiderio 16, Sedurifa 11, Faundo 8, Calisaan 4, Jeruta 3, Manlangit 3, Casino 2, Arim 1, Wamar 0

Quarterscores: 14-20, 32-34, 51-52, 78-74

Follow the writer on Twitter: @janbballesteros