Blue Haus completed a sweep after finishing off Lions Club/Northern Marianas College-Proa, 60-50, in Game 2 of the 3rd QQ Car Rental Basketball Cup best-of-three final series that was finally completed Wednesday night at the Garapan Basketball Court.
The powerhouse team nipped Proa, 76-75, in Game 1 of the finals played last Jan. 28. Game 2 was first played last Feb. 1 but was halted due to rain with Blue Haus up by 8 points with less than two minutes left in regulation.
After a couple of restarts earlier in the week, the game was finally completed Wednesday night.
The champion team is comprised of Darwin Barbo, Bruce Berline, Melvin Capalad, Noel David, Elmer Esdrelon, Leo Galarse, Junar Guiab, Pando Muleta, Edwin Santos, Brett Sutton, Brendon Talania, Jomar Tumaquip, and player/coach Sam Fernandez, who took home the best coach award after the game.
Proa managed an early 17-6 lead in the opening canto of Game 2 last Friday as Blue Haus started slow, but the latter crept closer at halftime, 18-25, as Esdrelon began to heat up.
Proa spread the ball around very well at the start and received output from seven different players in the first period. However, Blue Haus’ defense began to make its presence felt in the second quarter.
Blue Haus made its move after the pause and leapfrogged past Proa, 40-37, heading into the fourth and final quarter.
Esdrelon led the charge with 9 points that was complemented by a pair of buckets from Tumaquip and Sutton.
Proa’s shooters were not finding the mark in the third frame, but the squad remained very much in striking distance thanks to a couple of late 3-pointers.
When the fourth quarter came, Blue Haus continued to control the pace. They kept it slow just like they wanted and maintained a three possession lead heading into the last two minutes of regulation, but shortly after rain ruined the team’s coronation.
The stoppage helped Proa stave off the championship celebration, as Blue Haus was already set to commemorate their first title and had things rolling its way.
Action finally picked up Wednesday night with Blue Haus holding a comfortable 8-point lead, 54-46, with just 1:46 left in regulation.
Proa inbounded from mid-court and missed a couple of field goal attempts before turning it over at 1:27.
Soon after the change of possession, at 1:12, Blue Haus’ Tumaquip took a trip to the free throw line on a foul by Proa’s Jack Lizama.
He made them both, after which Lizama immediately willed his way to the stripe, at 1:05, and got the first freebie to drop, but Proa missed three good looks from short range after securing the rebound.
Proa’s Perry Inos fouled a Blue Haus player with 45 seconds left but valuable time had already ticked away and Proa had merely treaded water and trailed, 48-56.
They waited too long to foul and Blue Haus was happy to swing it around, playing keep away. The time went like a flash after that, leading into few meaningless fouls at the end.
Blue Haus’ Esdrelon shined in the final game with a game-high of 20 points and shared the finals MVP honors with Sutton, whose 9 markers was supported by the 10 points of Tumaquip and 8 from Guiab. Lerio Pagarao led Proa with a dismal 9 markers.
Other awardees included most steals winner Tumaquip, best in rebounds Berline, and the league’s scoring machine Talania—all of Blue Haus. Best in assists went to KB ABCD/II Market’s Bernard Aquino, best defensive player was KFC/Taco Bell’s John Joyner, and Proa’s Pagarao was selected as regular season MVP.
Notably, third place went to Kentucky Fried Chicken/Taco Bell with the team’s coach Ambet Omampo accepting the accolade on behalf of the team.
The third place consolation game never took place and KFC/Taco Bell received the nod for dressing five players last Feb. 1.
Confirmation of the game was on and off in the days leading into game time and OCM Corp. apparently had players present on Friday, but left before organizers called them to the floor.
KFC/Taco Bell fan Laura Martinez also won the darling of the crowd prize, while OCM took home the sportsmanship trophy.
Blue Haus 60 – Esdrelon 20, Tumaquip 10, Sutton 9, Guiab 8, Barbo 4, Talania 4, Galarse 3, Muleta 2.
Lions Club/NMC Proa 50 – Pagarao 9, Devero 8, Lizama 7, Yabut 6, Barcinas 5, Inos 5, Ogumoro 5, Sablan 3, Libuw 2.
Scoring by quarters: 6-17, 18-25, 40-37, 60-50.