Former Pool A pacesetter Zhaila's All Starz suffered another heart-breaker, as Micronesian Brokers, Inc. pulled off a 69-67 win in their duel in the first game in the DLX/Gualo Rai Invitational Basketball League last Monday night at the Gualo Rai Basketball Court.
Zhaila's, which won its first five games, absorbed two straight losses, as it also bowed to Playboy last Friday (65-74) and slid from first to second place. San Antonio leads Pool A with its 4-1 card, while MBI (4-2) moved up to solo third, boosting its playoff chances. Only the Top 4 teams in Pool A will make it to the playoffs.
Leo Galarse scored the winning basket for MBI. He stole possession off Zhaila's inbound play in the last 12 seconds and sprinted to their frontcourt for the layup. Zhaila's ran out of time to pull up for a shot, as only one second was left on the clock after Galarse's dagger.
Galarse and three other MBI players finished in double figures in their important win. The MBI wingman had 13 points, while Bernard Samson and Art Trajano logged 14 apiece, and Edmark Mendoza chipped in 12.
Chan paced Zhaila's with his 20 markers. He had two early triples in the first period and Zhaila's outgunned MBI from downtown, 4-3, for a shaky 21-20 lead.
Zhaila's then went cold in the second period, scoring only 6 points, while Trajano fired 8 of his total output in that canto to put MBI on top at halftime, 37-27.
MBI's lead was trimmed down to three at the end of the third, 52-49, as Zhaila's picked up its scoring in the second half and the match turned into a seesaw battle in the fourth canto before the latter committed a costly error and Galarse walked away the hero of the game.
Gualo Rai 71, Freestyl 63
In Pool B, the race for the last two playoff berths gets more interesting after Gualo Rai defeated Freestyl.
Freestyl fell to a 4-3 record to remain in third place behind early qualifiers Anjie's Boys (6-1) and LD Prime (5-2), but the former is just one game ahead of three teams tied for fourth spot. Gualo Rai with its 3-3 card is in a deadlock with Church 360 and QQ Rent A Car, while Looban is still in the fight with its 3-4 mark.
A 24-12 scoring in the first period gave Gualo Rai momentum and it held on in the end, securing the victory from the foul line. Gualo Rai got 5 of its last 7 points from the free throw area.
JP Jose led Gualo Rai with his 15 points, while Jun Estolas chipped in 14, and big men Alex Lauron and Zack Diaz contributed 13 and 12, respectively.
MBI 69 - Samson 14, Trajano 14, Galarse 13, Mendoza 12, Tenorio 6, Hernandez 5, David 3.
Zhaila's 67 - Chan 20, Ajoste 17, Ja. Bahillo 12, Lansang 8, Tudela 4, Mostales 4, Hernandez 2.
Scoring by quarter: 20-21, 37-27, 52-49, 69-67.
Gualo Rai 71 - Jose 15, Estolas 14, Lauron 13, Diaz 12, Mallari 8, Dayrit 3, Galzote 2.
Freestyl 63 - Kenty 24, Morales 11, Brennan 6, Cruz 6, Jacob 2, Detera 2, Yalung 2, Alano 2.
Scoring by quarters: 24-12, 37-26, 54-44, 71-63.