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Café France stuns NLEX 66-52

By Mark Giongco

MANILA, Philippines – Cafe France pulled off what the rest of the league couldn’t do: beat NLEX.

Undaunted, the Bakers stunned the Road Warriors 66-52 Tuesday in the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup at the Trinity University of Asia gym.

“I told them, our motivation is to make history. The boys gave their best. Nabigay lahat ng opportunity na malapit ang score and hindi sila nag-give up,” said Cafe France coach Egay Macaraya, whose squad improved to 4-2.

Cafe France banked on a 15-0 blast bridging the third and fourth quarters to turn an eight-point deficit to a 55-48 lead on a putback by Jan Jamon with 6:09 left.

The Bakers, who snapped the Road Warriors’ historic 24-game winning streak, held the three-time defending champion to just four points in the final frame.

NLEX just couldn’t buy a basket as Cafe France remained on the attack.

Jens Knuttel played a key role down the stretch, keeping the Bakers steady as the Road Warriors applied the pressure.

Knuttel scored eight of his game-high 14 points in the payoff period, including a lefty layup that pushed the lead to 13, 63-50, with under a minute left.

“All good things come to an end. It was time for us to have a loss to wake them up,” said NLEX head coach Boyet Fernandez, whose team absorbed its first loss this conference but remained on top of the standings at 7-1.

Ronald Pascual ended the drought that pulled NLEX to within five 50-55 with 3:20 remaining.

The Road Warriors though, went on another dry spell as the Bakers capitalized.

Marion Magat added a double-double with 13 points and 14 rebounds to go along with two blocks.

Jake Pascual was the lone NLEX, which only had six assists, player in double-figure scoring with 10.

Kirk Long completed a three-point play that put NLEX up, 48-40, in the third period before the Road Warriors went on a meltdown.

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