It took CaféFrance three years to accomplish its second goal – advancing to the finals of the PBA D-League.
But it was worth the wait as the Bakers, drawing an inspired game from Samboy de Leon, swept past the Cagayan-Gerry’s Rising Suns, 92-78, in their semifinals series yesterday in the Foundation Cup at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
The deadshot out of Centro Escolar University exploded for 23 points on 7-of-13 shooting as the Bakers turned what was expected to be a rugged match into a walk in the park.
The Bakers will face either Hapee Toothpaste or Cebuana Lhuillier in the finals – which is a best-of-three affair. Hapee and Cebuana were still playing at presstime with the former needing just a win to forge a title duel with CaféFrance.
De Leon highlighted his breakout game with eight rebounds, a performance that earned him raves from Coach Egay Macaraya.
Aside from de Leon, CaféFrance, which beat Cagayan-Gerry’s, 78-65, in Game 1, also got a big lift from Eloy Poligrates and Rod Ebondo who finished with 22 and 17 points, respectively.
The two struck hardest in the payoff period when the Rising Suns were staging a comeback.
Back-to-back three pointers by Abel Galliguez drew the Rising Suns to within seven, 79-72, with 4:23 left, but Poligrates scored seven points in a blistering 13-3 rally to put an end to the Rising Suns’ season.
“What can I say? The boys played well and we’ve reached our second goal, then hopefully we can go for the gold. They deserve it for all the hard work that they have done, and everybody really wants to win today and it shows,” said Macaraya.
“Experience wise, we have Poligrates, and the boys are already jelling. It’s about time to jell, they have been together for three years and kaya nakita natin yung improvement,” he added.
Poligrates finished with 22 points and four rebounds while Ebndo had a monstrous effort of 17 points, 18 rebounds and two blocks.
Maverick Ahanmisi and Jam Cortez also chipped in 10 points apiece for the Bakers.
Galliguez led the Rising Suns with 14 points and seven assists while Eric Salamat and Andrian Celada chipped in 12 apiece.
CAFEFRANCE 92 – De Leon 23, Poligrates 22, Ebondo 17, Ahanmisi 10, Cortez 10, Abundo 4, Galanza 2, Sedurifa 2, Andrada 2, Miranda 0, Noble 0, Batino 0
CAGAYAN-GERRY’S 78 – Galliguez 14, Salamat 12, Celada 12, Flores 8, Mabulac 8, Magat 8, Trollano 7, Rogado 5, Austria 2, Santos 2, Melano 0, Tayongtong 0
Quarters: 21-15; 42-35; 61-55; 92-78.