Cafe France weathered the late storm and held off Racal, 83-79, Thursday in the 2016 PBA D-League Foundation Cup at JCSGO Gym in Cubao.
Rod Ebondo towered for the Bakers with 15 points and six rebounds, while Aaron Jeruta added 12 markers, four assists, and three boards.
Paul Zamar added 10 to pull his team up with Phoenix at the top of the standings at 2-0.
“Hinabol nila kami. Nag-go small na and all-CEU, and the boys showed yung character nila na ayaw magpatalo,” said coach Egay Macaraya, as Cafe France saw its early 19-point lead go down the drain as the
Tile Masters made them sweat in the end game.
The Bakers jumped to an early 20-1 lead before Racal slowly crept back.
The reigning Foundation Cup champs, though, had to play without Ebondo in the 5:07 left to play but benefitted from missed freebies and crucial miscues from the Tile Masters in the clutch.
Billy Robles muffed two freebies which could have tied the game at 78, while Jonathan Grey lost the ball in transition to Jeruta in the final minute then gave up a looseball foul.
Philip Paniamogan closed the gap to one, 80-79, with a trey, but Jeruta nailed a floater and Mon Abundo split his freebies from a deliberate foul from Paniamogan with 11.1 ticks left.
Racal had one last chance to steal the win, but Chris Javier was whistled for a charging foul with 5.5 seconds remaining to end the game.
Paniamogan topped Racal (1-1) with 24 points on a 4-of-7 shooting from threes, while Raphael Banal added 13 in the defeat.
CAFE FRANCE 83 – Ebondo 15, Jeruta 12, Zamar 10, Parala 9, Opiso 8, Villahermosa 8, Abundo 6, Cruz 6, Casino 5, Manlangit 4, De Leon 0.
RACAL 79 – Paniamogan 24, Banal 13, Grey 10, Maiquez 7, Celiz 5, Robles 5, Gabawan 4, Javier 4, Ortuoste 3, Terso 3, Ruaya 1, Corpuz 0, McCarthy 0.
Quarters: 27-14, 38-27, 60-51, 83-79.