PULLING off the improbable, Café France shocked NLEX with a 66-52 decision that snapped the three-time champion’s record streak in the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup yesterday at Trinity University of Asia Gym.
Jens Knuttel and Marion Magat fueled the Bakers’ assault in the second half of the stunning victory that halted the Road Warriors’ phenomenal 24-game winning run dating back in January.
“The motivation was to make history,” said Café France coach Egay Macaraya. “I give it to the boys. They never gave up. And I guess it’s also the Christmas season. A lot of miracles happen and this is one of those miracles.”
Newcomer Fruitas completed a day of upsets as the Shakers downed last conference’s finalist Big Chill, 88-81, in the second game.
Carlo Lastimosa pumped in 32 points to fuel the Shakers’ strong second half, which they kicked off with a pivotal 12-0 run for a 51-39 lead after a halftime deadlock at 39.
“Lastimosa has been consistent,” Fruitas coach Nash Racela said of the St. Benilde gunner, who also shot 30 last week. “But it was our defense that was remarkable today, with guys like (Joseph) Terso and (Anjo) Caram taking turns in defending (Terrence) Romeo.”
Café France climbed to a share of third at 4-2 with Big Chill and idle Cagayan Valley, while Fruitas improved to 3-3.
Knuttel poured in all of his 14 points in the second half where the Bakers drilled 15 unanswered points that turned a 40-48 deficit into a 55-48 advantage. Magat delivered 13 markers, 14 rebounds and a couple of blocks.
“All good things come to an end,” said coach Boyet Fernandez after his Road Warriors absorbed their first setback this conference for a 7-1 card.
“We didn’t play defense today. I told them at halftime that we’re not playing the way we should be playing. We have to make stops. Eventually Café France caught us in the fourth, then we couldn’t set up and we were rushing our shots. I hope this will be a lesson for all of us.”
CAFE FRANCE 66—Knuttel 14, Magat 13, Padilla 10, Jamon 9, Lopez 6, Alas 5, Parala 5, Mendoza 2, Pogoy 2, Magbitang 0, Antipuesto 0, Dela Cruz 0.
NLEX 52—Pascual J. 10, Ganuelas 7, Sangalang 7, Salva 6, Long 5, Alas 5, Pascual R. 4, Slaughter 2,Amer 2, Lanete 2, Garcia 2, Hermida 0, Sumalinog 0, Camson 0.
Quarters: 11-13, 25-32, 44-48, 66-52
FRUITAS 88—Lastimosa 32, Adeogun 14, Caram 8, Terso 7, Colina 6, Silungan 6, Escueta 6, Escobal 3, Belleza 3, Antonio 2, Dela Rosa 1, Mendoza 0, Pascual 0.
BIG CHILL 81—Romeo 18, Buenafe 13, Montilla 13, Bringas 12, Collado 12, Villahermosa 5, Canlas 4, Cortes 2, Santos 2, Canta 0, Semira 0, Lozada 0.
Quarters: 19-26, 39-39, 62-59, 88-81