The kickoff of the next PBA D-League season has been pushed to January next year as the developmental tournament adjusted its schedule to the new UAAP calendar.
Since its inaugurals four years ago, the D-League got going just right after the end of collegiate basketball action in late October.
But with most universities shifting their academic calendar, the UAAP decided to move the season opener from July to September starting this year.
Scorching heat engulfed the metro, and the competition was just as inside the Ynares Sports Arena, the crowd was swelling.
The atmosphere was comparable to that of a championship game. It was, after all, a match up that would eventually be the championship duel of the Aspirants’ Cup. But for today, it’ was just an elimination round meeting between Cagayan Valley and the powerhouse Hapee.
For pint-sized guard Abel Galliguez, with the game on the line, he knew this was his shining moment.
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.