The biggest man on the floor made the biggest shot of the afternoon.
Rod Ebondo drained the game-winning basket with 1.8 seconds to spare to deliver CafeFrance its first PBA D-League title, snatching it from Hapee after a cardiac 56-55 win in game 3 of the 2015 PBA D-League Foundation Cup Thursday at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.
“He asked me the ball, I gave it to him, and he made the shot. He wanted the ball and he wanted to win,” said coach Egay Macaraya of his Congolese big man. “I told the boys to give the ball to Ebondo and go whatever happens.”
Before upending the Fresh Fighters, the Bakers already made history by being the first team to force a deciding Game 3 in the PBA D-League Finals.
“Everything the Bakers worked hard for three years, the journey is worth it. We have the right ingredients, the right players and I told them that this team will work wonders and I know we’re going to be the champions this conference because of the heart, the sacrifice, and the grace of God,” Macaraya said.
Ebondo was the rock for CafeFrance, going for 18 points, eight in the payoff period, to go with 11 rebounds, and seven blocks, while Samboy de Leon, Maverick Ahanmisi, and Joseph Sedurifa all had seven markers apiece.
The Bakers weathered a valiant Hapee comeback as the Fresh Fighters fought from a 12-point deficit, 39-27, steered by Mar Villahermosa, Nico Elorde, and Mike Gamboa.
Elorde nailed a go-ahead trey for Hapee, 55-54 with 45.7 seconds to go, and the Fresh Fighters still had a chance to increase the lead. But Chris Newsome missed on a drive and was called for a 24-second shot clock violation, giving the possession back to CafeFrance with 5.9 left to map out the game winning play for Ebondo.
Newsome still had a chance to snatch the win, but he couldn’t convert on a hail-mary attempt.
Hapee was led by Elorde’s 12 points, as Villahermosa added 11. Randolph Leongson/INQUIRER.net
CafeFrance 56 – Ebondo 18, De Leon 7, Ahanmisi 7, Sedurifa 7, Poligrates 6, Cortes 4, Galanza 3, Abundo 2, Andrada 2, Jeruta 0, Miranda 0, Batino 0.
Hapee 55 – Elorde 12, Villahermosa 11, Newsome 8, Rosario 8, Mendoza 7, Romero 5, Gamboa 4, Thompson 0.
Quarters: 15-14, 33-27, 43-41, 56-55.