The Bandits quickly made it to the win column of the 2nd DL Corp. Invitational Basketball League after dominating I Love Saipan, 76-61, last Saturday night at the Gualo Rai Basketball Court.
The Bandits-I Love Saipan tiff was the second match in the opening day of the second edition of the 16-team league and the former joined defending champion Adobo in the winner’s circle after earning the 15-point victory.
Big men Jun Alipio and McLain Achas helped the Bandits cruise past I Love Saipan, as they used their advantage on ceiling to pound the much shorter and inexperienced frontliners of I Love Saipan. I Love Saipan’s players are its employees and majority of them are first time participants in an organized league.
Though its players do not have much talent compared to the Bandits crew, I Love Saipan managed to keep up with its foe in the first half, falling behind by only 5, 24-29. Bryan Lontoc and Mike Olaitiman, the only two I Love Saipan players who have experience in a competitive league, teamed up in the first half to keep their team afloat. The Bandits, on the other hand, leaned on the inside baskets of Alipio and McLain, who combined for 18 points.
‘The Bandits then gained more cushion in the second half, as Art Salazar finally found his rhythm and scored 9 points in the third, including the team’s first 6 markers. After Salazar’s string of points, the Bandits went on to earn several points (10) from the foul line to take a 56-43 advantage, entering the final canto.
The Bandits retained the double-digit lead in the fourth, as Alipio and Achas delivered the killer blows, teaming up for 12 more points after going scoreless in the third period. Alipio finished with 14 points, while Achas added 12. Salazar had 13, while Eugene Manglona contributed 12.
I Love Saipan failed to mount a comeback in the fourth, as it could not get the right combination on the floor. Bryan Mendoza top-scored for I Love Saipan with his 14 markers, but most of his points came when the game was already out of their hands.
Bandits 76 – Alipio 14, Salazar 13, Achas 12, Manglona 12, Pineda 9, Delos Reyes 6, Odicta 6.
I Love Saipan 61 – Mendoza 14, Manglona 12, Olaitiman 11, Cristobal 6, Mamaril 4, Camacho 2.
Scoring by quarters: 15-10, 29-24, 56-43, 76-61.