The 2012 Blue Haus Invitational League's championship game had a down-to-the-wire finish with DLX outlasting QQ Rent A Car in overtime, 81-80, last Sunday night at the Garapan Basketball Court.
Darwin Barbo converted a pair of free throws in the homestretch for DLX to win the closely fought finale, while QQ big man Badong Camacho missed on a game-winning drive to fall short on their title bid.
After a 74-74 deadlock at the regulation, DLX managed to open a 79-76 lead after Noel David nailed a basket off Junar Guiab's assist, with 3:30 to go in the bonus period.
Lerio Pagarao made it a one-point game again with his layup, 78-79, and the score remained unchanged for over one minute, as DLX dominated possessions and the boards, but failed to make baskets.
Barbo broke DLX's short silence, as he drew a foul on Rolly Paraiso and drained both shots for an 81-78, advantage with 1:39 left on the clock. Paraiso was called for his fifth foul and Guiab would later join him in the showers with Art Trajano replacing the latter.
Camacho cashed in on the new matchup and made it to the line for two charities to keep QQ in the game, 81-78. DLX and QQ then traded errors in the ensuing plays before Noel David made a big steal moments later, paving the way for an Elmer Esdrelon's trip to the foul line. Esdrelon got the ball after the steal and drew a foul on Pagarao with 14 ticks left on the clock.
Esdrelon missed both free throws and David almost made another big steal before being called for a traveling violation, as he leaped to intercept an errant full court pass.
QQ retained possession with 7 seconds left and it went down low to Camacho, who made an aggressive move to the hoop and drew some contact, but the shot fell off and there was no whistle on the play. Trajano wrestled down the final rebound for the win.
The game went in overtime after Esdrelon split his free throws in the last 11 seconds of the regulation. His second shot ended up bouncing out of bounds and a timeout by QQ put the ball on its side of the court with 9 seconds to go.
Pagarao received the inbounds pass, but dribbled it off his foot, while Barbo could not get off the shot in time for DLX.
After the gut-wrenching battle, DLX received the championship team trophy and $800 cash prize from Blue Haus' Cecil Obaldo.
Completing the champion team are Jun Abedes, Melbert Dela Rama, Sam Fernandez, Leo Galarse, Jeff Garcia, Jun Pineda, and player/coach Pando Muleta.
DLX worked out an early 17-15 edge in the opening 10 minutes thanks to the 12 combined points of Barbo and Esdrelon.
Leo Galarse then heated up in the second quarter for a string of 13 points, helping DLX maintain a slim 36-35 favor at halftime. QQ gunner Elgene Mangali managed a dozen points in the first half, however his partner in crime, Pagarao, was held to only 4.
Camacho, however, helped fill the void Pagarao left on offense with the former adding 7 markers.
DLX stretched the lead to four at the end of the third, 60-56, after Esdrelon scored 9 points and drew support from his teammates. Pagarao tallied 11 points in the third quarter to keep his team afloat.
Then in the fourth quarter, QQ made a huge defensive stand and held DLX to just 14 points, 9 of them came from Esdrelon, to keep its title hopes alive before losing in overtime.
Esdrelon finished with 29 points and earned Finals MVP honors, while QQ's Pagarao and Mangali teamed up for 41 in the loss. Rolly Paraiso was later selected regular season MVP, while Muleta was hailed coach of the year.
DLX 81 - Esdrelon 29, Galarse 21, Barbo 16, Trajano 5, David 4, Guiab 4, Abedes 2.
QQ Rent A Car 80 - Pagarao 21, Mangali 20, Camacho 18, Sison 7, Paraiso 6, Concepcion 2, Cruz 2.
Scoring by quarters: 17-15, 36-35, 60-56, 74-74, 81-80.