Gerald Aniciete made his second free throw with no time left to lift the Bandits to the 1-point win and hand the team its third victory in four games. SSFM absorbed its first defeat after six games after muffing two crucial shots and committing a costly foul in the homestretch.
Aniciete trooped to the line after he drew a foul on SSFM’s Mike Espinosa. According to league officials, the crucial call happened after SSFM faltered on two attempts. Jerome Norita went up for a shot first in the last 10 seconds of the match and missed, while Cecilio Bisana grabbed the offensive board and went for a putback, but was also unsuccessful. Aniciete then secured the rebound and Espinosa’s arms were wrapped around him as both players went down the floor and then time expired. Aniciete faltered on his first free throw attempt, keeping SSFM’s hopes alive, but not for long, as the lanky Bandits forward hit the second one to steal the victory.
Jaymark De Guzman top-scored for the Bandits with his 24 points, while Angelo Fernando chipped in 20, 10 of them came in the fourth quarter, as he led the team’s comeback bid. The fourth period started with the Bandits behind by 7 points, 55-62, and they kept SSFM at bay with Fernando heating up in the latter part of the final canto. After drilling his first two field goals in the early goings of the fourth, Fernando scored 6 straight markers past the halfway mark of the fourth quarter.
Aniciete also nailed a basket in the opening minute of the fourth and added two clutch free throws in the end, while J.R. Barrios tallied 5 of his 10 points in the final half of the payoff period. De Guzman, on the other hand, carried the load for the Bandits in the first three periods, firing 10 markers in the third to prevent an SSFM breakaway.
SSFM tasted its biggest lead in the third, 62-53, as Bisana and Espinosa fueled the team’s offense. Bisana exploded for 11 points in the third frame, while Espinosa chipped in 9. Bisana led SSFM with his 23 markers, but was held to 2 points in the fourth canto, while Espinosa contributed 17 and was scoreless in the last frame. Djay Ong was the third SSFM to break into double figures with his 21 points, teaming up with Norita in withstanding the Bandits’ fightback.
Meanwhile, the six other games last week were rained-out and will be rescheduled on a later date. With the majority of the matches called off, the team standings remain the same with defending champion Ali’i on top with its 4-0 record, followed by SSFM (4-1), Bandits (3-1), Flip Top (3-2), Gwap Gang (2-2), Ghasias Brothers (2-4), Hite Beer (0-5), and Morales Boys (0-3).
Bandits 81 – De Guzman 24, Fernando 20, Barrios 12, Guaib 10, Aniciete 4.
SSFM 80 – Bisana 23, Ong 21, Espinosa 17, Aguon 6, Norita 6, Tobias 4.
Scoring by quarters: 10-14, 32-34, 55-62, 81-80.