Cafe France kickstarted its title retention bid with a dominating 89-64 victory over Topstar ZC Mindanao on Thursday to start the 2016 PBA D-League Foundation Cup at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.
Motivated to atone last conference’s bridesmaid finish and defend the crown this time out, the Bakers fired a 20-6 opener but lost steam after the halftime break. But after the Aguilas crawled back to as close as six, 45-39, midway in the third, Cafe France went at it again, following the lead of Carl Bryan Cruz and Paul Zamar to break the game wide open and take a lead as high as 28, 86-58.
“They have to understand that they have to overcome those obstacles. I just let them feel and understand na kaya nila yan. Sometimes, they have to learn to compose themselves and not rely on the coaches,” said coach Egay Macaraya.
Cruz topped the Bakers with 21 points and four rebounds, while Zamar caught 17 markers and five assists.
Samboy de Leon also got 12 points, and Congolese big man Rod Ebondo registered a double-double with 11 markers and 12 rebounds, alongside two blocks in the victory..
Gino Jumao-as and Dexter Garcia ended up with 11 points each in the defeat, while JR Cawaling got eight markers in his debut for the Aguilas.
In the second game, Tanduay shook off a late uprising from AMA Online Education in a 72-66 victory.
Rudy Lingganay paced the Rhum Masters with 12 points and three rebounds, while Jaypee Belencion chipped in 10 markers.
“Ganun talaga. Yung character talaga ng team yung bagay na talagang tinututukan ko. May tendency talaga yung mga bata na mag-relax. Lumalaban sila sa level of competition ng kalaban, and sooner or later, pagbabayaran namin yan,” said coach Lawrence Chongson. “Kailangan talaga martilyuhin sa ulo para matandaan nila na bawal mag-relax.”
Tanduay’s 29-point third quarter kept the Titans at bay, holding AMA off despite a late run trimmed the Rhum Masters” 20-point lead go down to as low as six.
“Hindi naman AMA lagi ang kalaban namin. Kung ganun ang ilalaro namin, matatalo kami. Pero kung ganun ang lalabas sa Tuesday, we may be able to give Phoenix a good fight,” Chongson said.
Jaycee Asuncion and Gene Belleza carried AMA with 18 points each.
CAFE FRANCE 89 – Cruz 21, Zamar 17, De Leon 12, Ebondo 11, Opiso 7, Abundo 6, Casino 6, Villahermosa 6, Jeruta 2, Manlangit 1, Arim 0, Cortez 0.
TOPSTAR ZC MINDANAO 64 – Garcia 11, Jumao-as 11, Argamino 9, Cabrera 9, Cawaling 8, Ignacio 6, Sarangay 6, Ongteco 4, Acosta 0, Dadjilul 0, Rivera 0, Rono 0, Tano 0.
Quarters: 20-9, 43-24, 59-43, 89-64.
TANDUAY 72 – Lingganay 12, Belencion 10, Celda 8, Javillonar 7, Mendoza 7, Santos 7, Vigil 6, Alolino 4, Tagarda 4, Acibar 3, Acuna 2, Gotladera 2, Cenal 0, Stevens 0.
AMA 66 – Asuncion 18, Belleza 18, Publico 8, Bragais 5, Jordan 5, Jo. Montemayor 4, Ragasa 4, Arambulo 2, Je. Montemayor 2, Calma 0, Dizon 0, Macaranas 0, Magpantay 0, Olivares 0.
Quarters: 13-15, 33-29, 62-42, 72-66.