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CafeFrance storms into quarterfinals

Games Thursday JCSGO Gym, Cubao Quezon City
12 n.n. – Racal Motors vs MJM Builders
2 p.m. – Jumbo Plastic vs Hapee
4 p.m. – Bread Story/LPU vs MP Hotel

The Café France Bakers are showing some character as they head to the playoffs.

After a sloppy first half, the Bakers battled back from an 11-point deficit in the fourth quarter and went on to outlast AMA University, 74-68, in overtime on Monday in the PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup at the JCSGO Gym in Cubao, Quezon City.

Rodrigue Ebondo shot 4 of 5 for 11 points in the fourth quarter to spark a mighty charge by Café France and Samboy de Leon scored six of his 14 points in the extra period as the Bakers, won in overtime for the second straight game.

Last Thursday, Café France defeated Cebuana Lhuillier, 67-62, also in overtime to lock the number three spot and secure a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals.

In the second game, MJM Builders (3-6) won their second straight game by routing MP Hotel (1-8), 93-68. Both teams are out of the playoff race.

“I thought we developed our character in this game. Right now, we know how to bounce back even if we play very poor basketball game. That’s the lesson we learned today,” observed Café France coach Egay Macaraya.

Ebondo eventually finished with 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Maverick Ahanmisi also turned in a double-double with 17 points and 12 boards for the Bakers, who extended their winning streak to three games and improved to 8-2 record.

Their fourth straight loss and seventh overall in 10 games was certainly frustrating for the Titans, who went into game needing a victory to avoid elimination.

AMA appeared on track as they dictated the pace through three quarters and things looked encouraging when Jay-R Taganas knocked a 3-point shot to give the Titans a 56-45 advantage with 4:36 left in the fourth quarter.

But they went scoreless in the next 2:30 minutes while committing three turnovers. Café France capitalized and outscored the Titans, 14-1. Ahanmisi’s second trey in that spurt put the Bakers ahead, 57-57, with 52 seconds to play.