Rommel Usi and John Jugos hit clutch triples and teamed up in the crucial play in the closing seconds of the match to complete Shirley’s/Century’s come-from-behind win and push Hyatt near the exit door.
Usi drilled a triple from the right corner after Hyatt moved within 2 to give Shirley’s/Century more cushion, 55-50, with under three minutes left in the match. Jugos followed it up with his own triple from the right key to start a short 5-2 run and increase Shirley’s/Century’s advantage to 8, 60-52, 1:49 left on the clock. Sean Rabasto scored the 2 other points off a fastbreak layup.
A quick 5-0 Hyatt run off Jun Alipio’s short jumper and Gino Libuw’s triple kept Hyatt in the game, 57-60, with still 1:22 left in the fourth quarter. Hyatt had a chance to move closer when Rabasto missed an open shot in the paint, but the defending champion’s fastbreak pass was intercepted by Usi. Usi later turned the ball over as his pass was anticipated by Yosh Gabaldon. With Hyatt regaining possession, Alipio attacked the basket, but was blocked by Erick Dela Rosa.
After the big defensive stop, Shirley’s/Century rushed the ball up with Jugos taking a hurried shot with several seconds left in their 24-second shot clock. He then made up for the mental lapse when he picked the ball up in a long rebound from his own miss and this time he ran down the clock and was fouled. Hyatt was charged with only its third foul, allowing Shirley’s to make the inbound from the sideline with 34.4 seconds left in the game.
Still leading and with 14 seconds left on its shot clock, Shirley’s/Century melted a few more seconds before Usi started a good play from the top key and spotted Jugos cutting from the left wing for an uncontested undergoal stab.
Now down by 5, 57-62, Hyatt was pressured to attempt from the 3-point area and faltered both shots, while Shirley’s/Century controlled the rebound after the second miss and ran down the time to preserve the victory.
With the win, Shirley’s/Century advanced to the second round where they will face pennant champion and top seed Fiesta Resort & Spa Saipan in a battle for the first semis berth in the double-elimination playoffs. Hyatt, on the other hand must win its next match to avoid getting the axe.
Hyatt moved on the verge of elimination despite dominating Shirley’s/Century’s in the first half. Hyatt led by double digits at the end of the first period, 18-8, with four of its players scoring at least two field goals apiece. Shirley’s/Century hit only three field goals and one triple.
Shirley’s/Century then rallied in the second quarter to cut the deficit to 5 at the break, 29-34. Rabasto brought Shirley’s/Century back in the second frame, firing 10 of his 14 points in that period. Shirley’s/Century kept going in the third quarter and managed to steal the lead, 45-41, after holding Hyatt to 7 points in the penultimate canto. Usi scored 7 of Shirley’s/Century’s last 8 points in the third to put his team on top, while Hyatt was held to three field goals and drew points only from Alipio and Sajh Hossain.
Shirley’s/Century hung in there with Usi draining two more triples in the fourth and getting help from his teammates, while only Alipio and Libuw stepped up for Hyatt.
Shirley’s/Century 62 – Usi 16, Dela Rosa 15, Rabasto 14, Aguilar 4, Sedillo 3, Drillon 2, Manibusan 2, Catungal 2.
Hyatt Regency 57 – Alipio 18, Libuw 14, Hossain 8, Vargas 7, Lim 6, Devero 6.
Scoring by quarters: 8-18, 29-34, 45-41, 62-57.