Anjie's Boys notched two wins in three days to clinch the first playoff spot in Pool A of the 2012 DLX/Gualo Rai Invitational Basketball League.
The latest victory was recorded last Saturday at the Gualo Rai Basketball Court and it was an impressive one, as the five-man crew of Anjie's Boys outclassed the 11-player roster of Yuichiro Printing in the second half en route to a 67-63 triumph. Anjie's Boys' other win was against San Roque in a make-up game last Thursday, 94-53, and the former improved to a 5-1 record for the top spot in Pool A.
Joel Javier helped Anjie's Boys marched into the playoffs first, as he drained the go-ahead basket, made a big defensive stop in the homestretch, and then canned the insurance shot to upset the shocked Yuichiro crew.
The game was tied at 63-all, after Yuchiro's Badong Camacho missed two free throws, with 56.4 seconds remaining on the clock. Yuichiro had another chance to break the deadlock after it got the offensive rebound, however Jun Abedes also muffed a baseline jumper.
After Abedes' miss, this time Anjie's Boys took the rebound with Genesis Mamaril anchoring a fastbreak play. Mamaril then decided to drop the ball to Joemar Tadifa, who missed the layup, but fortunately Javier was at the trailer and grabbed the offensive board for the putback and Anjie's Boys' 65-63 lead, 9.5 seconds left on the clock.
Yuchiro sued for time and when the game resumed, it failed to complete its play when Abedes drove to the basket and was blocked by Javier. Yuchiro was forced to give up a quick foul and sent Victor Sablan to the stripe and the Anjie's Boys forward missed both charities. However, Anjie's Boys was back on the foul line, as Amor Zapata beat and drew a foul on Camacho in the battle for the loose ball after Sablan's second miss. Zapata also went 0-for-2 from the charity lane, but Javier grabbed another offensive board for his second putback. He also drew a foul and with 1.4 seconds left, Javier intentionally missed the bonus shot.
Anjie's Boys was left with five players in the second half, as Ezra Caro, Eugene Manglona, and Frank Mettao had to play in a semis game in a separate league in Garapan. Manglona, Caro, and Mettao combined for 19 of the team's 30 points in the first half, which ended with Yuchiro having a precarious one-point lead, 31-30.
Mamaril, Javier, Zapata, and Tadifa then all scored in the third canto and even led by as much as 9 before settling for a 48-44 cushion, going into the final canto. The depleted Anjie's Boys crew slowed the pace of the match and Yuichiro, instead of exploiting its advantage inside and going for fastbreak plays, went with its foe's flow and paid the price.
Yuchiro continued to play catch up in the fourth canto and could not seem to break the 2-point barrier until Camacho drilled a triple to tie the game, 58-all. However, the deadlock was short-lived, as Mamaril answered with his own trey to regain the lead. The match was back to square one anew after Abedes connected on a drive and Erwin Gomez split his charities. Gomez would later nail a reverse layup, giving Yuchiro its first taste of the lead, 63-61, since the first half, going into the final two minutes of the match.
Yuchiro had a chance to widen the gap after Anjie's Boys faltered on its offensive set, however the former was called for a 24-second shot clock violation and when the latter got the ball back, Mamaril made a basket in the paint to even the count anew.
Camacho, who scored nine straight points in a span of three minutes to bring Yuichiro back in the game, tried to reclaim the lead when he attacked Anjie's Boys defense and was fouled on his way to the basket. However, Camacho's two charities hit the back iron of the rim and Abedes could not convert his shot either, while Javier delivered for Anjie's Boys in the closing seconds of the game.
Javier and Mamaril top-scored for Anjie's Boys with their 17 points apiece, while Caro chipped in 11. Camacho also had 17 for Yuchiro, which fell to a 1-4 record and is in danger of making it into the showers early. Only the Top 4 teams in Pool A will advance to the next round and Yuichiro is at the bottom half of the nine-team field.
Anjie's Boys 67 - Javier 17, Mamaril 17, Caro 11, Tadifa 8, Zapata 6, Mettao 5, Manglona 2.
Yuichiro Printing 63 - Camacho 18, Abedes 15, Palacios 11, Gomez 8, Lizardo 4, Sanciangco 2, Tengco 2, Joson 2.
Scoring by quarters: 17-16, 31-30, 48-44, 67-63.