MARK Cruz hit the big shots down the stretch for Cagayan Valley to preserve a 73-67 win over Café France on Tuesday in the PBA D-League Foundation Cup at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
The Letran guard buried back-to-back shots to help the Rising Suns hold off the Bakers, who pulled to within a point late in the game.
Cagayan Valley, which took a 17-point halftime lead, improved its win-loss record to 6-4 and grabbed fourth spot in the team standings. The third and fourth placers after the eliminations will have twice-to-beat advantages in the quarterfinals against the sixth and fifth teams, respectively.
With its third-straight loss, Café France dipped to 5-5 and is in danger of missing the quarterfinals.
The Rising Suns were just a point ahead, 68-67, when Cruz buried a pull-up jumper with 1:43 left in the fourth. He later buried a running shot with 31.6 seconds to play to seal the win.
“Dumating lang ’yung opportunity sa akin na kailangan kong i-take ’yung shot. Naka-shoot naman,” said Cruz.
Cagayan Valley coach Alvin Pua begged off from speaking to reporters after the game, apparently due to some superstitious belief after winning their third straight game.
Cruz’s heroics also prevented Joshua Webb’s fine performance from going to waste. With his mother Kathy and uncle Hubert Webb in attendance, he scored 20 points, 14 in the first half that saw the Rising Suns lead, 48-31.
Café France came back after outscoring Cagayan Valley, 36-25, in the second half but failed to sustain the run. A Mike Silungan triple made it 68-67 but that turned out to be the Bakers’ final basket.
Cagayan Valley (73) – Webb 20, Lao 11, Mercader 9, Melano 8, Celada 8, Cruz 6, Poligrates 5, Exciminiano 4, Canta 2, Jamito 0, Bringas 0.
Café France (67) – Silungan 16, Magbitang 8, Magat 8, Batino 6, Parala 6, Rogado 5, Cornejo 5, Maconocido 5, Gallardo 4, Knuttel 2, Abundo 2, Lopez 0.
Quarterscores: 24-11; 48-31; 57-44; 73-67.