If there were players who should be the most thankful for CafeFrance’s PBA D-League title conquest, it should be the CEU Scorpions coach Egay Macaraya took under his wing.
The school-based squad’s Foundation Cup win gave players like Mon Abundo, Joseph Sedurifa, and Samboy de Leon a chance to show the public their wares.
Staples in the Scorpions’ NAASCU title reigns, the trio are still unknown commodities to the mainstream basketball fans. However, they believe that their PBA D-League stint gave them enough exposure to at least crack the scouting report of the PBA teams come draft day.
After all the team went through, Hapee was just a possession short of pulling the improbable.
However, Rod Ebondo had the final say in the 2015 PBA D-League Foundation Cup, sending the Fresh Fighters in tears to end the tournament.
Facing tons of twists and turns in the conference that was, it could already be considered as an overachievement for Hapee to even make it to the championship round.
CafeFrance has always built its team around the core of the Centro Escolar University, with Coach Egay Macaraya adding veterans and other college standouts along the way in hopes of being competitive in the PBA D-League.
Congolese big man Rod Ebondo has always been a pivotal piece for the Bakers, who on Thursday was on the verge of winning its first D-League title.
CafeFrance trailed Hapee, 55-54, with 5.9 seconds left. It gave Macaraya enough time to map out the final play which would either win them the tournament or send them back to Mendiola in tears.
The CafeFrance Bakers completed their series turnaround after escaping the loaded Hapee Fresh Fighters, 56-55, in Game Three to win the PBA D-League Foundation Cup championship Thursday at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.
Rodrigue Ebondo buried the game-winning jumper with just two seconds left to seal the Bakers comeback from a 1-0 hole in the series and take their first PBA D-League crown.
Ebondo top-scored the game with 18 points and 11 rebounds while three of his teammates finished with seven points apiece.
HAPEE and Café France duke it out for one final time in a historic Game 3 of the PBA D-League Foundation Cup championship today before an expected full house crowd at the Ynares Sports Arena.
The Fresh Fighters took the opener, 83-76, before the Bakers squared the best-of-three series with a 76-70 victory last Monday, setting the stage for the league’s first-ever Finals rubber match.
Frustrated on its bid for a back-to-back title romp the last time out, Hapee coach Ronnie Magsanoc is looking forward for a strong start to get the job done.
Flubbing its chance of closing out the Finals series, Hapee coach Ronnie Magsanoc saw his team’s 76-70 Game 2 defeat to CafeFrance as an obvious lack of effort.
“They outworked us. They outplayed us,” he said.
It also didn’t help that the Bakers got their rhythm early and bullied the undermanned Fresh Fighters squad from the get-go.
Even if he shot poorly from the field in the first two games of the 2015 PBA D-League Foundation Cup Finals, Eloy Poligrates will get it done when the moment calls for it.
Poligrates shot a combined 6-of-40 in this finals series, but two of those baskets came in the closing moments in the pivotal Game 2.
The Cebuano dribbler drained a big three to momentarily stop the Hapee rampage that put the Bakers back up by 10, 72-62 with 3:35 left in the fourth.