Brgy. San Antonio denied KFC/Taco a return trip to the finals after pulling off a hard earned 91-85 victory in the semifinals of the 2012 DLX/Gualo Rai Invitational Basketball League last Wednesday night at the Gualo Rai Basketball Court.
San Antonio recovered from a sluggish start and then withstood KFC/Taco Bell's repeated rallies in the fourth canto to clinch the second finals berth and arrange a title showdown against the resurging Gualo Rai.
Gualo Rai had earlier taken the first finals ticket after edging Zhaila's All-Starz in the first semis pairing, 71-65. Gualo Rai and San Antonio will go for all the marbles in tonight's championship game at 8pm. Zhaila's All-Starz and KFC will play in the consolation match at 6:30pm.
KFC had to settle for the third place game after bungling an 11-point lead in the opening canto and falling short in its comeback bid in the last 54.2 seconds of the match. The erstwhile champion made one final push to keep its finals hopes alive when Herbert Maranan converted a trey from the right key and drew a foul. KFC cut San Antonio's lead to three, 83-86, and could have moved closer, but Maranan missed the bonus charity.
San Antonio got the rebounded and JP Villanueva won a footrace for a fastbreak layup, upping their lead to five, 88-83, with 48 seconds left on the clock.
KFC then went 1-for-4 in its field goal attempts in the ensuing plays, losing its chances to steal the game, while San Antonio sealed the win from the foul line, going 3-for-6.
Melvin Cadiang had 21 points for San Antonio, which drew double figures from four other players. Maranan also had 21 markers for KFC, while Prince Factor added 19,
Factor made 9 of his total points in the first quarter, lifting KFC to a 23-12 lead. However, San Antonio slowly recovered, as it pushed up the tempo of the game and capitalized on the foul troubles of KFC's big men.
Erick Dela Rosa and Norman Black were saddled with four fouls each in the third quarter, leaving KFC with no inside threat. They then fouled out in the opening minutes of the fourth.
With their frontliners out, Maranan, Factor, and Ralph Francisco tried to keep KFC afloat and succeeded, as the dethroned champion moved within one after Factor's putback, 71-72. KFC then had several chances to retake the lead, but missed its next four point-blank shots, while Nevin Salem escaped with a fastbreak layup to give San Antonio more cushion, with less than three minutes left on the clock.
Then in the last two minutes, San Antonio was holding a shaky 82-80 lead, when it made two putbacks to stretch its advantage. Mike Saturno made the first follow-up, as the burly forward beat a much smaller KFC player for the offensive rebound. A Maranan error at midcourt paved way for another San Antonio putback, as Adrian Palacios picked up the loose ball, went for a fastbreak, and missed, but Cadiang did a good trailer job for the second-chance basket.
Maranan redeemed himself with a triple in the ensuing play, but his incomplete 4-point play boosted San Antonio's bid to enter the finals.
In the first semis game, Jun Estolas and his ragtag Gualo Rai crew had cruise control to eke out an upset over the second-ranked Zhaila's, which missed shooter Jeff Bahillo in the important game.
Estolas scored 22 points for Gualo Rai, which led at the end of each of the first three quarters and remained on top in the fourth with the former scoring 8 points in the final canto, including 5 of the team's last 6 points.
With Bahillo out, Zhaila's potent 3-point shooting lacked luster. Zhaila's only made 2 triples and the second came when the game was already decided, while Gualo went for easy two-pointers and dominated the paint with Alex Lauron and Zack Diaz manning the frontline. Lauron had 18 points, while Diaz added 8 to offset Brian Ajoste's 25 for Zhaila's.
Gualo Rai 71 - Estolas 22, Lauron 18, Babauta 9, Diaz 8, Cabrera 6, Jose 2, Dayrit 1.
Zhaila's 67 - Ajoste 25, Chan 14, Ja. Bahillo 8, Tudela 4, E. Lansang 4, Mostales 2, R. Lansang 2.
Scoring by quarters: 19-16, 39-31, 55-48, 71-67.
Brgy. San Antonio 91 - Cadiang 21, Villanueva 13, N. Salem 12, Palacios 12, De Guzman 10, Aranda 6, Alegre 4, Saturno 4.
KFC/Taco Bell 85 - Maranan 21, Factor 19, R. Francisco 12, Fernand 9, Black 6, Tinio 5, Dela Rosa 5, M. Francisco 3.
Scoring by quarters: 23-12, 40-39, 72-65, 91-85.