Maplas La Mani marched into the next round of the Division B of the 2013 DLX/Anchor Strong Invitational Basketball League after downing the ICS Shooters, 62-50, last Saturday at the Gualo Rai Basketball Court.
The win also kept Maplas in contention for the remaining automatic semis slot in the 10-team field, as it now holds 5-3 record. Division leader and undefeated Adobo (7-0) took the first outright semis seat and Maplas will battle Sexy Boys and Chinatown, who own similar 6-3 slates, for the last automatic semis ticket.
Maplas has one more game left and was leading its rained-out game against JWS last week, 54-49, 9:33 left in the fourth. A win over JWS will put Maplas in a tie for second place with the Sexy Boys and Chinatown and the owner of the last outright semis spot will be decided by points system. Chinatown won over Maplas by 5 points, 62-57, Maplas defeated the Sexy Boys by three, 54-51, and the Sexy Boys also took a 3-point victory over Chinatown, 70-67.
While Maplas is assured of making it to the next round even if it loses the fight for the two automatic semis berths, the ICS Shooters are in danger of joining Servitek (1-6) and LD Prime (1-7) to the showers. The ICS Shooters fell to a 3-4 record for seventh place in the team standings and only the No. 2 to 6 finishers after the round-robin elimination will move to the second round. To keep its hopes alive, the ICS Shooters must prevail in its last two matches and hope that Susupe (3-5) and JWS (2-4) would not get into win No. 4.
The ICS Shooters seemed headed for a heartbreaker against Maplas when the former was held to two field goals in the first period, allowing the latter to take a 10-5 lead. The ICS Shooters then picked up its scoring in the second period, making 19 points for a precarious 24-23 halftime advantage.
However, the ICS Shooters' hold on the lead was short-lived, as the moment Maplas played pressure defense, the former was rattled and faded away. Maplas complemented its tight defense with a balance offense to build a double-digit lead, 50-39, heading into the final quarter.
The ICS Shooters continued to struggle against Maplas' scramble defense in the fourth and failed to launch a big comeback, putting the former's season in jeopardy.
Dennis Morales paced Maplas with his 11 points. He was the lone double-figure scorer for Maplas, however six of his teammates scored at least 6 points apiece. Webby Guntar was also the lone player on the ICS Shooters' side to nail twin digits with his 15 and was backed only by Neil Espinosa and Harris Enriquez, who combined for 13 markers. Myler David added 8, but was saddled by foul trouble and scored 4 points when the game was already decided.
Maplas La Mani 62 - Morales 11, Aguilar 8, Surla 8, Aniciete 8, M. Usi 7, Odicta 7, Rivera 6, San Nicolas 4.
ICS Shooters 50 - Guntar 15, David 8, Espinosa 7, Enriquez 6, Tala 4, R. Lansang 4, Corotan 2, Mallari 1.
Scoring by quarters: 10-5, 23-24, 50-39, 62-50.