HAPEE regained its dominant form when it mattered to hammer Café France, 70-55, and keep its lofty perch atop the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup on Monday at the Marikina Sports Center.
The Fresh Fighters squandered an early lead no thanks to a hot-shooting Bakers side in the second quarter, before recovering in the second half to pull off their seventh successive win and regain a half-game lead over fellow unbeaten team Cagayan Valley.
“It was a very good test for us,” Fresh Fighters coach Ronnie Magsanoc said. “Kasi yung dos mo, tres nila eh. Yun yung nangyari nung pagkuha nila nung lamang,”
“But we were able to establish our defensive intensity. The energy we brought in the third was the separation we needed to build the lead,” the champion mentor added as the Bakers lost for only the second time in seven games, but remained in third spot.
Ray Parks led the way with 20 points, eight boards, four assists, and one steal, while Garvo Lanete who sparked the breakaway for the Fresh Fighters by scoring half of his 14 markers in the third quarter.
Maverick Ahanmisi spearheaded the Bakers with 13 points, but it was Mon Abundo who waxed hot when they took the lead momentarily, scoring all but two of his 10 points in the second quarter, where they outscored Fresh Fighters 20-16 to gain a one-point lead at halftime.
Tightening their defensive screws, Hapee limited the Bakers to just eight points while producing 20 of their own in the third quarter to turn the game around for good.
HAPEE 70 – Parks 20, Lanete 14, Dela Cruz 8, Rosario 7, Amer 6, Van Opstal 6, Long 5, Adeogun 4, Koga 0, Thompson 0, Mendoza 0, Sorela 0, Newsome 0, Hayes 0
CAFÉ FRANCE 55 – Ahanmisi 13, Abundo 10, Noble 10, De Leon 6, Huertas 4, Sedurifa 4, Batino 3, Ebondo 3, Andrada 2, Habelito 0, Galanza 0, Jeruta 0, Celso 0, Cortez 0
Quarterscores: 19-16, 35-36, 55-44, 70-55