Zhaila's All Starz won the battle of the “south sides,” outclassing Brgy. San Antonio, 78-73, in the lone game played in the rain-hampered 2012 DLX/Gualo Rai Invitational Basketball League last Thursday at the Gualo Rai Basketball Court.
The win and the game was only the first for Zhaila's, as its first two matches were suspended due to rain, while San Antonio absorbed its first loss after going 2-0. Zhaila's suited up in its first game with the core of the runner-up Team Pogi and former Saipan Southern High School and Southern Sonics players on its roster. San Antonio is also bannered by the younger generation of Sonics and Manta Rays mainstays.
Zhaila's All Starz controlled the first half of the match that resumed the action in the DLX caging after games last Tuesday and Wednesday's were rained-out, lost the lead in the third, but regained its composure in the payoff canto to thwart San Antonio.
Jason Bahillo and Brian Ajoste teamed up for 13 points in the opening quarter to lift Zhaila's All Starz to a 21-17 lead. Ajoste scored Zhaila's first four points, while Ajoste drilled the last five and they continued to lead their team in the second canto to stretch the advantage to 8 at halftime, 40-32. Ajosted sizzled for 10 more markers in the second frame, which Jason Bahillo closed out with his five straight points.
Ajoste also drained the first basket for Zhaila's in the second half, but that was his lone field goal in the third where San Antonio launched a comeback and stole the lead, 61-56. San Antonio outgunned Zhaila's in the third, 29-16, with Bryl Alegre, Nevin Salem, Jaymark De Guzman, and Nicko Salem combining for 27 markers in the recovery.
Ajoste and Jason Bahillo, who had only two field goals in the third-quarter meltdown, still struggled in the fourth and Zhaila's needed another player to step up and save the team from collapsing. Jason's older brother, Jeff heeded to the call for help, firing 8 of his 11 points in the fourth quarter to bring the lead back to Zhaila's.
With Jeff Bahillo finding his marks in the fourth canto, Zhaila's turned the tables on San Antonio in scoring, 22-12, to save a 5-point win.
Ajoste top-scored for Zhaila's with his 21 points, adding 4 in the fourth, while Jason Bahillo finished with 18, making one of last free throws that sealed their win. Roger Hernandez canned the two other crucial charities.
Nevin Salem paced San Antonio with his 19 markers and he was the lone player on his team to score more than one field goal in the fourth canto. Adrian Palacios was only the second San Antonio player to break in double figures with his 10 points, but was silent in the fourth. De Guzman and Alegre combined for 15 points for San Antonio, which played against Zhaila's sans Melvin Cadiang.
Meanwhile, Freestyl won the second game of the night via forfeit against Docomo/Yuichiro Printing.
Zhaila's All Starz 78 - Ajoste 21, Ja. Bahillo 18, Jef. Bahillo 11, Chan 8, Sula 8, Hernandez 5, Tudela 2.
Brgy. San Antonio 73 - Ne. Salem 19, Palacios 10, De Guzman 8, Alegre 7, Ni. Salem 6, Aranda 5, Tabora 5, Saturno 2.
Scoring by quarters: 21-17, 40-32, 56-61, 78-73.