Only one playoff berth is left in Pool A of the DLX/Gualo Rai Invitational Basketball League after Freestyl notched the third slot, following a crucial 87-70 victory over Church 360 last Monday night at the Gualo Rai Basketball Court.
Freestyl (5-3) joins Anjie's Boys (6-1) and LD Prime (5-2) in the playoffs, while QQ Rent A Car (3-3), Gualo Rai (3-3), Looban (3-4), and Church 360 (3-4) will battle for the remaining slot to the next round. San Roque (1-5) and Yuchiro Printing (1-5) are out of the running.
Freestyl and Church 360 resumed action in the DLX caging, which had its Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday games last week called off due to rain. Freestyl turned out to be the more prepared team after the weeklong layoff, controlling the match from the opening tip until the buzzer to clinch a playoff berth.
Dennis Morales, Jojo Detera, George Cruz, and Donovan Brennan joined forces in lifting Freestyl to the win, making up for the absence of their top scorer Clayton Kenty. Morales led Freestyl with his 22 points, Detera added 18, and Cruz and Brennan chipped in 16 and 14, respectively.
While Freestyl's points were evenly distributed. Church 360 relied heavily on Aaron Wood and clearly missed the presence of Wowie Abuel and Josh Lutrell. Wood had a game-high 28 points, while Preston Basa was the only other Church 360 player to score in twin digits with his 13 markers.
Basa fired Church 360's first 4 points, but went cold in the remaining minutes of the opening canto, while Morales made 6 of their last 8 points in the first period for Freestyl's 18-16 lead.
Detera took over from Morales in the second frame with the former nailing 10 markers, while Church 360 stayed in the game behind its three triples and fell behind by only 4 at the break, 35-39.
However, Freestyl started pulling away in the third, as Morales heated up anew and drained 11 points to give his team a double-digit advantage, 63-53. Church 360 faced a 10-point deficit in third, as only Wood scored more than one field goal for the team.
Wood continued carrying Church 360 on his shoulder in the fourth, but his one-man show was no match to Freestyl' balance attack. Six different Freestyl players lit up the scoreboard in the final canto.
Meanwhile, KFC/Taco Bell zeroed in on a playoff seat in Pool B after winning over Mawati (1-6) via forfeiture.
The defending champion finished the round-robin elimination with a 5-3 record and is currently in third place behind Brgy. San Antonio (4-1) and Zhaila's All Starz (5-2). MBI (4-2), Blue Haus (2-2), Wushin Express (2-3), and Playboy (2-3) are still in playoff hunt.
Freestyl 87 - Morales 22, Detera 18, G. Cruz 16, Brennan 14, R. Cruz 7, Yalung 4, Alano 2, Alejandro 2.
Church 360 70 - Wood 28, Basa 13, Buenabajo 8, M. Puno 8, Diaz 4, Buniag 3.
Scoring by quarters: 18-16, 39, 35, 63-53, 87-70.