MANILA, Philippines—John Lopez scored in traffic with 3.4 seconds left and Cebuana Lhuillier tripped Cafe France, 81-79, Thursday to get back on winning track in the 2013 PBA D-League Foundation Cup at the Ynares Sports Arena.
The Gems, admittedly struggling to get momentum to make a deep playoff run this conference, improved to 5-4 as the road to the playoffs get tougher and tighter.
“Ang hirap na manalo ngayon (It’s hard to win now). It’s a roller coaster ride,” head coach Beaujing Acot told the reporters. “After we lost two in a row, I begin to doubt myself as a coach.”
But Cebuana Lhuillier scored a crucial win this time, as the squad showed poise down the stretch.
Paul Zamar nailed a triple with 40 seconds left to put the Gems up by 79-74—their biggest of the game where the Bakers were mostly on top.
But Cafe France tied the game with a 3-point shot by Mike with 23.4 seconds left, leaving Cebuana Lhuillier enough room to win the game.
After a timeout, the Gems went to starting guard JR Buensuceso, who attacked and drew defenders that left the left lane open for Lopez to penetrate.
“Yun talaga yung play (That’s the actual play), it was by design play. Once Lopez gets open, he has a good perimeter but he decided to take it strong,” said Acot.
June Dizon bullied his way in the paint 24 points while Buensuceso had 12, three assists and two steals for the Gems.
It was a second straight loss for the Café France, which led by as many as 13 points in the second quarter.
After getting a taste of the second place early in the conference, the Bakers dropped to 5-4 and tied with the Gems.
Silungan led Cafe France with 19 points, but missed a game-winning heave after Lopez’ basket on the other end. Mike Paral added 16 points.