Manila, Philippines – Blackwater Sports made short work of Café France in an 89-69 victory that sent the defending champion Elite in the semifinals of the PBA D-League Foundation Cup on Thursday.
The Elite set the tone of the rout in the second quarter by opening the period with a 17-6 run aided by two 3-point shots from Allan Mangahas (11 points). Blackwater Sports outscored Café France, 26-15, in the quarter and went up by as many as 14 points.
Jericho Cruz poured 18 of game-high 24 points in the second half and had five assists, Gilbert Bulawan had 17 and Reil Cervantes contributed 14 points for the third seeded Elite, who will face the Jumbo Plastic Giants in a best-of-three series starting Thursday.
Quinton Heruela scored eight of his 19 points in the fourth quarter to help Big Chill defeat Cebuana Lhuillier, 72-64, in the other quarterfinal matchup and forced a rubber match for the last semifinal berth.
The winner take-all-all is scheduled on at 2 p.m. Tuesday.
“A lot of people are asking me if we can do it. We’re gonna do it in Game 2,” declared Big Chill coach Robert Sison after his troops save their season and kept their hope of advancing to the Final Four.
The Superchargers broke a 25-all deadlock with a 9-0 run to close the second quarter and never trailed again.
The Gems pulled within 43-46 late in the third but couldn’t keep the momentum due to poor shooting.
“The players are very aware of the situation. I thought we played disciplined basketball. We were very patient on offense and a lot more disciplined on defense,” observed Blackwater Sports coach Leo Isaac.
The Elite defeated the Bakers by just three points in the eliminations last week. This one was never close though.
“We kept telling them we can’t take (Café France) lightly. Credit to the players, they were really focused and played on the same page,” Isaac said.
Café France trailed by just three after one quarter but struggled on 4 of 15 shooting in the second and committed four turnovers that paved the way for Blackwater’s breakaway.
The Bakers battered the Elite off the boards, 47-37, and had a 40-28 advantage on points in the paint. But the defending champs overcome their weakness in that department with their grit and determination.
Alfred Batino and Ryan Gallardo each scored 17 points for Café France.