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CafeFrance nips Tanduay

Maverick Ahamnesi of Cafe France (left) drives to the basket against Robin Rono of Tanduay during PBA D-League action yesterday at the JCSGO gym in Cubao, Quezon City. The Bakers won, 68-62. (Nuki Sabio of PBA Media)

Games Thursday JCSGO Gym
1 p.m. – Cebuana Lhuillier vs Kera Mix
3 p.m. – Cagayan Rising Suns vs MP Hotel

Alvin Abundo hit a clutch 3-point shot in the closing seconds as Café France survived another late game meltdown to beat the rallying Tanduay Light Rum Masters, 68-62, on Monday in the PBA D-League Foundation’s Cup at the JCSGO Gym in Cubao, Quezon City.

The Bakers were clinging on to a 65-62 lead and the shot clock down to three seconds, when the 5-foot-7 playmaker took a pass from forward Maverick Ahamnesi way beyond the 3-point range. With a defender in front of him, Abundo quickly tossed the ball that hit high off the glass before falling in as the shot clock buzzer sounded.

“Alvin saved the day for us. But it was a lucky shot,” hollered Café France coach Egay Macaraya of Abundo’s only field goal of the game.

The thrilling victory somehow brought back the confidence of the Bakers, who were branded ‘chokers’ after blowing a 20-point third quarter lead in their 85-86 loss to Cebuana Lhuillier to open their campaign in the conference last week.

Ahamnesi scored 16 points and Michael Noble had 15 off the bench for the Bakers, who shook off a poor start with a strong second quarter and a string of 3-pointers.

“Everybody was talking about Café France being a choking team. So I challenged the guys coming into the game. Hopefully, after this win we can do better,” Macaraya said.

Rodrigue Ebondo grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds for Café France. Still, Tanduay Light dominated the boards, 47-45, and took a 30-14 edge on points in the paint.

Both teams shot poorly in the first quarter but Tanduay Light took more free throws to take a 13-7 lead at the end of the quarter.

The Bakers regrouped in the second behind Noble and Ebondo and outscored the Rhum Masters, 25-10 to seize control.

A string of 3-point shots from Bong Galanza, Joseph Sedurifa, Ahamnesi and Noble allowed Café France to stay in control in the third quarter while posting its biggest lead at 52-37 late in the quarter.

Café France went 12 of 31 from beyond the arc including six in the third period.

The Bakers had a 65-56 lead and appeared to have a lock on the win with 2:12 remaining. But they missed their next two attempts and turned the ball over three times in their next four possessions. The Rhum Masters capitalized.

Aljon Mariano scored four of his game high 22 points during a 6-0 rally that pulled Tanduay within 65-68 and make the game interesting with still 1:42 left.

But the former UST stalwart missed on two crucial shots that could have turned their fortunes and Tanduay Light fell to 1-1.

The Scores:
Café France 68 – Ahamnesi 16, Noble 15, Ebobdo 9, Sedurifa 7, Galanza 6, Abubdo 5, Jeruta 4, Miranda 2, Andrada 2, Batino 2, De Leon 0, Cortez 0.

Tanduay Light 62 – Mariano 22, Sumang 9, Belencion 8, Jumao-As 6, Foronda 6, Eriobu 4, Santos 2, Ilagan 2, Dela Paz 2, Tagarda 1, Mandani 0, Cenal 0, Escueta 0, Rono 0.

Quarters: 7-13; 32-23; 52-43; 68-62.