Phoenix survives late Cafe France run, inches closer to top two

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Phoenix weathered the late storm and fended off Cafe France, 91-83, Thursday in the 2016 PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup at JCSGO Gym in Cubao.

At 9-3, the win inched the Accelerators closer on nabbing one of the twice-to-beat advantages. They will now root for Racal to beat AMA in the final gameday on Tuesday to avoid any triple-tie for the top spot, which would push them out of the top two.

Mike Tolomia led the charge with 28 points and six assists, while Mac Belo did it all anew for the Accelerators with his 21 markers, six boards, two dimes, two steals, and two blocks.

Ed Daquioag also had 12 points, six rebounds, and four assists in the win.

“The most important thing is not the win but how we play together offensively and defensively. Pasalamat na lang ako na during yung run nung Cafe France sa dulo, na-regain nila yung composure nila,” said coach Eric Gonzales.

With Phoenix holding an 81-61 lead to start of the fourth, Cafe France held the Accelerators scoreless for almost five minutes to get to as close as six, 81-75 with 5:37 remaining.

A pair of Russel Escoto freebies stopped the drought for Phoenix, as Roger Pogoy, Belo, and Tolomia allowed their team to pull away in the end.

“Regardless of the result, we just want to stay positive and play together as a team. If we do that, I don’t see any reason na mag-fail tayo and I put my trust in them,” said Gonzales.

Phoenix also gained retribution against its rival, avenging its 96-93 overtime defeat to Cafe France last July 21.

Congolese big man Rod Ebondo finished with 21 points, 14 rebounds, and two rejections, while Carl Bryan Cruz got 19 markers for the Bakers.

Cafe France, 8-3, wraps up its eliminations schedule against winless Topstar ZC Mindanao on Tuesday, as it keeps its hopes up for a triple-tie for the top spot.

The Scores:

PHOENIX 91 – Tolomia 28, Belo 21, Daquioag 12, Pogoy 9, Escoto 6, Tamsi 6, Jamito 4, Mendoza 4, Batino 1, Andrada 0, Colina 0, Inigo 0, Knuttel 0.
CAFE FRANCE 83 – Ebondo 21, Cruz 19, Parala 13, Casino 11, Abundo 8, Custodio 3, Manlangit 3, Zamar 3, Jeruta 2, Arim 0, Opiso 0.

Quarters: 16-19, 41-36, 80-61, 91-83.

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