CAFE France joined the PBA D-League with the goal of developing players, most notably those from Centro Escolar University of which the team has a tie-up.
The franchise got a bonus on Thursday when the CEU-backed Bakers won their first-ever championship by beating favorite Hapee Fresh Fighters in the deciding game of the Foundation Cup finals.
“The main objective of the team when we started was to develop players,” admitted Café France team owner Johnny Yap.
But by forging a tie-up with CEU, the Bakers also tapped the services of a school that already had two National Athletic Association for Schools, Colleges, and Universities championships tucked under its belt.
The core of the Scorpions blended well with former and aspiring PBA players to steer the Bakers past the Fresh Fighters, 56-55, behind the game-winning basket of Rodrigue Ebondo for their breakthrough D-League title.
It’s only this season that Café France actually made the semis since joining the league in 2011.
The Bakers arranged a semis encounter with Hapee during the Aspirants Cup, but were swept by the Fresh Fighters on their way to winning the crown.
But even if it has finally won a title, Café France’s thrusts remain at developing players.
“We had bad seasons and we had good ones. But the main goal is to develop players. It’s a way of giving back to the players who worked really hard through the years,” said Yap.
Head coach Egay Macaraya savored the success of the Bakers since taking over the team in 2012.
“After three years, we finally had the right ingredients to win the title,” said the former gunner from San Sebastian.