Brgy. San Antonio took the early lead in Pool A of the 2012 DLX/Gualo Rai Invitational Basketball League after surviving the Hip Hop Thunder, 70-65, in the curtain-raiser last Saturday at the Gualo Rai Basketball Court.
San Antonio now has a 2-0 record for the No. 1 spot in the nine-team Pool A, while the Hip Hop Thunder dropped its debut after choking against the former's pressured defense in the closing minutes and losing three key players.
The Hip Hop Thunder was down by only two, 67-65, going into the final two minutes, but failed to pull off a come-from-behind win after committing three costly errors and missing Rolly Paraiso, Dan Mateo, and Joshua Norita in the homestretch. Paraiso was first to go out after committing his fifth foul with more than five minutes left in the match, while Mateo and Norita followed suit due to cramps.
When Mateo left with about four minutes left, the Hip Hop Thunder was holding to a precarious 2-point lead, 60-58. With Mateo out, the Hip Hop Thunder struggled to bring the ball over to its frontcourt against the trapping defense of San Antonio, which turned those miscues into points to grab the lead, 65-63.
San Antonio upped the lead to four, 67-63, off Jaymark De Guzman's fastbreak layup, however, Rodney Sacramento kept the Hip Hop Thunder in the game with his own fastbreak basket.
The Hip Hop Thunder had a chance to move closer after Jack Aranda split his charity in San Antonio's possession, however Isagani Cortez was trapped at midcourt and lost possession. San Antonio trooped to the foul line anew after the steal, however Melvin Cadiang muffed both charities. The Hip Hop Thunder controlled the rebound and Cortez's made a long pitch, but Lester Vertudez was facing two defenders and lost the ball, too.
When the leather returned to San Antonio and the Hip Hop Thunder gave up a preemptive foul, Cadiang this time canned both charities. Then the Hip Hop Thunder tried to go for a quick two, but Vertudez's heave to the sprinting Sacramento was too strong and went out to the baseline.
An unusual San Antonio error returned possession to the Hip Hop Thunder, but the latter failed to cash in on the opportunity when Boboy Sablan was fouled, faltered on his 3-point attempt, and missed the three free throws. San Antonio then grabbed the rebound and wasted the remaining 11.3 seconds to secure its second win in as many games.
Nevin Salem top-scored for San Antonio with his 16 points, while Cadiang and Adrian Palacios chipped in 12.
Mateo had 18 points for the Hip Hop Thunder, which also drew 12 markers apiece from Paraiso and Sacramento.
360 Church 76, San Roque 60
360 Church had a rousing debut last Friday after routing San Roque.
360 Church led from start to finish and kept the double-digit advantage after getting double figures from four players. Josh Lutrell paced 360 Church with his 20 points, Aaron Wood added 13 and Preston Basa and Mark Noel Puno logged 12 each.
Rommel Usi was the lone bright spot for San Roque, firing a game-high 21 markers.
Lutrell announced his entry to the league early, draining 8 points in the opening quarter to lift 360 Church to an 18-10 lead. Lutrell and company never looked back from thereon for their impressive first win.
Last Friday's second game between Playboy and MBI was rained-out at the 2:56 mark of the first quarter with the latter ahead, 14-4.
Meanwhile, results of Saturday's second game between Anjie's Boys and Gualo Rai will be reported in Saipan Tribune's Tuesday edition.
360 Church 76 - Lutrell 20, Wood 13, M. Puno 12, Basa 12, Caputon 7, Lorfiny 6, Buenabajo 4, Buniag 2.
San Roque 60 - Usi 21, Salazar 12, Claveria 9, Odicta 7, Bautista 5, Johanes 3, Hidalgo 3.
Scoring by quarters: 18-10, 35-26, 53-40, 76-60.
Brgy. San Antonio 70 - Nev. Salem 16, Cadiang 12, Palacios 12, De Guzman 9, Aranda 5, Alegre 4, Tabora 2, Villanueva 2, Saturno 1.
Hip Hop Thunder 65 - D. Mateo 18, Sacramento 12, Paraiso 12, Vertudez 11, Norita 6, Sablan 4.
Scoring by quarters: 17-8, 40-35, 50-56, 70-65.