Aaron Jeruta emerged as the spark Cafe France badly looked for, helping the Bakers nab an 86-75 Game 2 victory over Racal on Thursday at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig and extend their 2017 PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup semifinals series.
The veteran guard unloaded 10 of his 18 points in the fourth period as the Bakers fired a 16-4 finishing kick to steal the game from the Tile Masters.
“Aaron Jeruta stepped up. He’s the only veteran in the team and this was his breakthrough game,” said coach Egay Macaraya.
Jeruta also had six assists and four rebounds in the win, providing the help Macaraya begged from his locals for Congolese big man Rod Ebondo.
Ebondo paced Cafe France with 25 markers, 22 boards, and six blocks, while JK Casino added nine points.
Paul Desiderio had a bad shooting night from the field, going on a 3-of-8 from the field, but drilled the pivotal trey with 1:07 left to push the Bakers to a comfortable 79-75 lead, after battling back from a 57-43 deficit in the third quarter.
Game 3 is on Tuesday at the same venue.
Rey Nambatac topped Racal with 14 points, nine rebounds, and six assists, while Jackson Corpuz and Allan Mangahas both had 12 in the loss.
CAFE FRANCE 86 – Ebondo 25, Jeruta 18, Casino 9, Desiderio 8, Manlangit 8, Sedurifa 7, Calisaan 6, Faundo 5, Arim 0.
RACAL 75 – Nambatac 14, Corpuz 12, Mangahas 12, Torres 11, Cabrera 10, Salado 8, Flores 4, Onwubere 4, Capacio 0, Dagangon 0, Gabawan 0, Gabayni 0, Terso 0.
Quarters: 15-20, 33-43, 52-61, 86-75.