A crucial game-winning runner basket from Rodrigue Ebondo was all it took for Café France to notch a 56-55 victory over the Hapee Fresh Fighters to claim its first PBA D-League Foundation Cup championship title on Thursday, at the Ynares Sports Arena, Pasig City.
With just 1.8 seconds remaining on the clock, Ebondo turned down Hapee’s back-to-back D-League championship goal when he made a dominating presence underneath and pushed his way to score a running-shot to send the Bakers to their maiden title.
Before he concluded the tightly-fought Game Three, Hapee still held on as Nico Elorde sank a triple with just 5.9 ticks left on the clock to build a 55-54 advantage, which was the only lead put up by the squad throughout the game.
However, Coach Edgar Macaraya’s wards sent a wham reply to the Aspirant’s Cup champions when Ebondo dished the shot that placed the Fresh Fighters’ overall effort to no avail.
A three-point attempt delivered by Chris Newsome could have twisted things around for Hapee during the crucial period, but it was too late and the ball did not make it to the basket.
Rodrigue Ebondo finished with 18 points, 11 rebounds, and 7 blocks to lead Café France Bakers, who became the only fourth team to win the PBA D-League Championship Titles alongside NLEX Road Warriors, Blackwater Elite, and Hapee Fresh Fighters.
On the other hand, Nico Elorde had 12 points, followed by Mar Villahermosa with 11 points for the Hapee Fresh Fighters, who played the Game Three decider match without their San Beda standouts Baser Amer, Ola Adeogun, Arth Dela Cruz, Ryusei Koga, and Michole Sorela.
Café France (56) – Ebondo 18, Ahanmisi 7, de leon 7, Sedurifa 7, Poligrates 6, Cortes 4, Galanza 3, Abundo 2, Andrada 2, Jeruta 0, Batino 0, Celso 0
Hapee (55) – Elorde 12, Villahermosa 11, Newsome 8, Rosario 8, Mendoza 7, Romero 5, Gamboa 4, Thompson 0,
Quarter Scores: 15-14, 33-27, 43-41, 56-55