Hip Hop Thunder and Mobil lived for another day after prevailing in separate knockout games at the start of the playoff round of the 2012 Blue Haus Invitational League last Monday night at the Garapan Basketball Court.
Mobil played in the opening match and outclassed Star Water, 78-69, while Hip Hop Thunder downed Saipan Hardware in the second game, 80-65. Mobil advanced to the second round and will face Group B's second-ranked N.V.M, which drew a bye in the first round, on July 7. Hip Hop Thunder also made it to the next round and will duel Group A's second-seeded DLX.
Hip Hop Thunder may have won by 15 points, but the game was still close in the last 2:10 with Saipan Hardware behind by only 7, 69-62, and had a chance to slice the deficit further after Errol Peredo was given a bonus shot off Dan Mateo's foul. Mateo was also slapped with a technical foul for excessive complaining, giving Saipan Hardware three free throws plus possession.
However, Zack Babauta muffed the two technical free throws, while Peredo also faltered on his charity. Then after the inbound play, Saipan Hardware failed to score anew when Tim Quan went for a quick jumper and the ball hit nothing but air.
Hip Hop Thunder melted the clock in the ensuing plays, while Saipan Hardware was forced to give up fouls and was eventually booted out of the single-elimination playoffs.
Saipan Hardware and Hip Hop Thunder slugged it out in the first quarter before the latter assumed control of the match late in the second frame, using its quickness to outsmart the much taller frontliners of the latter. Saipan Hardware, which have several big men (Quan, Alex Lauron, Zack Diaz, and Hae Jun Park) failed to capitalize on its superior ceiling and instead opted to take outside shots and missed on most occasion.
Only a point separated Hip Hop Thunder and Saipan Hardware after the first canto, 22-21, before Lauron scored latter's first 8 points to grab the lead, 29-27. However, Hip Hop Thunder behind Jomary Tumaquip's leadership regrouped and picked up the tempo of the game for a 12-2 windup and a 39-31 halftime advantage. Saipan Hardware lost the driver's seat midway in the second period, as only Lauron hit the scoreboard for the team.
Tumaquip led six Thunder players in double figures with his 18 points, while only five players scored for Saipan Hardware and three hit twin digits and the two others combined for only 9 markers.
In the second half, Mobil played better in the second half after a sluggish start to foil Star Water's upset bid.
Star Water stunned Mobil early with White Capalad knocking in 9 points for the former's 24-16 advantage. Capalad added 8 more points off a triple and a layup, as Star Water kept the upper hand at halftime, 39-35.
Capalad finished the half with 17 point and that was it for him, as Mobil managed to silence the Star Water guard in the second half. On offense, Jun Estolas began to take over for Mobil in the third period, firing 8 points, while Angelo Fernando, Jason Bahillo, and Bart Demapan also made contributions to put their team on top, 58-52.
Mobil hung in there with Estolas putting the finishing touches on their come-from-behind and leading all scorers with his 24 markers.
Meanwhile, Ashley's and R-Rebels were scheduled to play in the first game last night for the right to face Group B top seed Loving Hands tomorrow. Wanted Sponsor and Cargo Express were also set to meet in the second game last night with the winner challenging Group A top-ranked QQ Rent A Car.
Mobil 78 - Estolas 24, Ruluked 18, Fernando 10, Demapan 9, Bahillo 5, De Guzman 5, Villarin 4.
Star Water 69 - Capalad 17, De Dios 11, Santos 8, Moises 8, Sacramento 8, Rivera 7, Gomez 4.
Scoring by quarters: 16-24, 35-39, 58-52, 78-69.
Hip Hop Thunder 80 - Tumaquip 18, D. Mateo 14, Libuw 12, I. Devero 12, C. Devero 11, Sacramento 10, N. Mateo 2.
Saipan Hardware 65 - Peredo 23, Tenorio 17, Lauron 12, Quan 7, Babauta 2.
Scoring by quarters: 22-21, 39-31, 54-46, 80-65.