Macaraya puts trust on Ebondo for CafeFrance’s 1st D-League crown
CafeFrance has always built its team around the core of the Centro Escolar University, with Coach Egay Macaraya adding veterans and other college standouts along the way in hopes of being competitive in the PBA D-League.
Congolese big man Rod Ebondo has always been a pivotal piece for the Bakers, who on Thursday was on the verge of winning its first D-League title.
CafeFrance trailed Hapee, 55-54, with 5.9 seconds left. It gave Macaraya enough time to map out the final play which would either win them the tournament or send them back to Mendiola in tears.
Ebondo spoke to his coach and asked for the ball, and just like any other time, the tactician obliged.
“He wanted the ball and he wanted to win,” said Macaraya. “I told the boys to give the ball to Ebondo and go whatever happens.”
Never mind that he was blocked by Troy Rosario in the last offensive play. Macaraya gave confidence to his big man and believed that he will deliver.
“He told me to just put in my mind that you’re going to make that basket,” said Ebondo.
And with the play set, Ebondo drove straight to the basket and got the ball over the defense of Rosario and Jaypee Mendoza, kissing the ball to the board and straight to the basket to seal the victory. The Bakers won, 56-55.
“That was the play. Coach told me that’s for me, that’s my basket. I should make that basket,” he said.
Ebondo said that the title was a culmination of the Bakers’ long journey to the top, and all of the team’s sacrifice was finally realized with the 2015 D-League Foundation Cup title.
“We all worked hard in practice. When I’m tired, I just tried to work harder,” he said. “That’s why today, I thank God because all of those have finally paid off.” CFC