Gualo Rai started a winning run in Division B of the 2013 DLX/Anchor Strong Invitational Basketball League after eking out a 66-65 victory over Maplas La Mane last Saturday at the Gualo Rai Basketball Court.
The triumph was the second in a row for Gualo Rai, which dropped its debut with a heartbreaking loss to Adobo on Jan. 23, 69-70. Gualo Rai, which got its first win over Servitek, 67-57, fell to Adobo after failing to orchestrate a play in the last five seconds of the close match.
Versus Maplas La Mane, this time Gualo Rai delivered under pressure, drilling the go-ahead basket and then making defensive stops to hand the former its debut loss.
Mike Espinosa nailed the winning shot off Prince Factor's assist. The important play started with Factor driving to the right baseline and attracting Maplas La Mane defenders before dishing out the ball to a cutting Espinosa.
Maplas La Mane then sued for time with 7.8 second left on the clock and Gualo Rai ahead, 66-65. When the game resumed, Dennis Cortez made the inbound pass to Mico Usi, who drove to the left wing, eluding Gualo Rai's Justine Cayading. However, Factor provided help defense and blocked Usi's shot. Usi then collared the rebound off his own miss and went for a reverse layup, and faltered anew, as this time Cayading was on top of the play to defend him. Maplas had its third chance on dropping the game-winning basket, but Morales' bank shot went off the mark as time expired.
Besides making the assists and the big block, Factor also top-scored for Gualo Rai with his 18 markers. John Capuyon Jr. chipped in 15, while Rainier Deleon Guerrero and Marlo Ibanez combined for 16.
Usi paced Maplas with his game-high 21 markers, while Cortez and Morales added 16 and 13, respectively. Cortez made back-to-back baskets in the final one minute of the match to keep Maplas afloat, 63-64, while Morales' shot off the inbound play put their team ahead, 65-64, with 27.4 seconds left, but their efforts were nullified with Factor and Espinosa teaming up on offense on the other end.
Adobo 75, ICS Shooters 70
Meanwhile, in the first game last Friday, Adobo edged the ICS Shooters.
Adobo improved to a clean 3-0 record to lead the nine-team field, while the ICS Shooters absorbed its second loss in three games.
Friday's curtain-raiser was also a close match with Adobo prevailing after making three free throws and two field goals in the homestretch.
Genesis Mamaril, Lester Vertudez, and Mike Saturno delivered the key baskets for Adobo in the fourth quarter, as the trio combined for 14 of the team's 22 markers in the final canto. Mamaril went on to top-score for Adobo with his 15 points, Vertudez contributed 14, and Saturno logged 11.
Among the three, only Mamaril scored for Adobo in the first period, which ended with the ICS Shooters taking the lead, 18-13.
Vertudez and Saturno then started hitting their shots in the second canto to put Adobo on top at halftime, 34-31, and the duo teamed up with Mamaril in the second half to foil the ICS Shooters' repeated comeback bids.
Meanwhile, last Friday's second match between Susupe and Maplas was rained out after the third period. The game resumed last Saturday before the second match between Susupe and Chinatown. Results of both matches will be reported in Saipan Tribune's Tuesday edition.
Adobo 75 - Mamaril 15, Vertudez 14, Saturno 11, Deleon Guerrero 8, Yap 7, Dela Cruz 6, Tadifa 3, Orejola 2, Alegre 2.
ICS Shooters 70 - Espinosa 17, Guntar 10, E. Lansang 9, Mallari 9, David 6, R. Lansang 4, Corotan 3, Enriquez 2.
Scoring by quarters: 13-18, 34-31, 53-46, 75-70.
Gualo Rai 66 - Factor 18, Capuyon 15, Ibanez 8, Deleon Guerrero 8, Galulu 7, Espinosa 4, Cayading 3, Yap 2.
Maplas La Mane 65 - M. Usi 21, Cortez 16, Morales 13, Anicete 4, Odicta 4, Flores 2.
Scoring by quarters: 16-14, 34-28, 46-46, 66-65.