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Cafe France battles Bread cagers today

Games today Ynares Arena, Pasig City
2 p.m. – Bread Story-Lyceum vs Café France
4 p.m. – Jumbo Plastic vs Cebuana Lhuillier

Third-seed Café France and fourth-ranked Jumbo Plastic eye repeat wins against Bread Story-Lyceum and Cebuana Lhuillier, respectively, in a pair of quarterfinal matches on Thursday to determine the last two semifinalists in the PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup.

The Bakers and the Pirates clash at 2 p.m. while the Giants and the Gems collide at 4 p.m. at the Ynares Arena in Pasig City.

Café France and Jumbo Plastic enjoy a twice-to-beat advantage although they are expected to easily dispatch their rivals to advance to the next round.

Top seed Cagayan Valley and no.2 Hapee earned outright passage in the semifinals as incentive for finishing in the Top 2 at the end of the elimination round.

“It feels good to have an advantage in the quarters. This is a first for us and it really adds up to the confidence of the players. Right now I would say they’re focused and motivated to make the next round,” observed Café France coach Egay Macaraya.

His only worry according to Macaraya is his team’s lack of killer instinct. But he noted that the Bakers have improved on their character and showed some consistency the past couple of games.

Café France routed Bread Story-Lyceum, 88-74, in the eliminations. Apparently, that loss serves as motivation for the Pirates according to their coach Bonnie Tan.

“We’re the only newcomer to reach this far and the guys want to prove they belong in this league,” said Tan, who revealed that he is leaving the team after the conference. “We’re happy with what we have achieved but we are not yet done.”

Jumbo Pastic also defeated Cebuana Lhuillier, 63-61, in the eliminations but observers feel this match-up could go either way considering the Gems’ improved play of late.

The Giants and Gems finished the elims with identical 7-4 record but Jumbo Plastic earned the quarterfinals incentive on the strength of the winner-over-the-other rule.

“Whatever the result of our first meeting, it doesn’t count anymore. This is an entirely new ball game so hopefully we can match up well with them [Gems] in the quarters,” said Jumbo Plastic coach Stevenson Tiu.