C&J Signs Cherries nosed out I Love Saipan, 72-71, in the lone game played in the 2nd DL Corp. Invitational Basketball League last Saturday night at the Gualo Rai Basketball Court.
Pat Tinio made the bagger, canning his second free throw in the last .5 of a second to put C&J Signs in the win column and hand I Love Saipan its second loss in as many games. Tinio trooped to the 15-foot line, as he was fouled by Derrick Manglona. The crucial shot came after C&J Signs called a time out with 23 seconds left, following a Mike Olaitiman’ basket that tied the match. When game resumed, Albert Salas quarterbacked for C&J Signs and seemed running out of time and space when he was hounded by I Love Saipan defenders on the right corner with the clock down to two seconds. Salas then kicked the ball out to Tinio, who was bumped by Manglona, as the latter failed to control his momentum while trying to switch back on defense to the left key.
Tinio stepped on the stripe, missed the first shot, but made the second, giving C&J Signs the lead. I Love Saipan then called a time out and with half of a second left on the clock was pressured to go up a catch and shoot play. The plan did not materialize, however, as after Glyles Ruluked inbounded the ball from the right sideline and passed it to Olaitiman, the latter dribbled twice before throwing up a prayer.
C&J Signs escaped with the victory despite playing with only four players in the last 38.4 seconds of the match. Prince Factor fouled out after reaching in against Ruluked in the rebound play. C&J Signs, which had only six players available for the game, had earlier lost Joseph Galulu late in the third quarter.
Before fouling out, Factor made a layup, followed by Buenavista’s and-1 play to give C&J Signs a 71-65 lead, with 1:34 left in the match. Four straight points from Ruluked moved Island Saipan within two and it had a chance to either grab the lead or even up the count after the former got the offensive rebound off his miss on the second free throw attempt. However Leonardo Cristobal was caught for a 3-second violation, returning possession to C&J Signs.
C&J Signs then failed to close out the game early when it 0-for-4 from the line in the ensuing plays, while Olaitiman made up from an earlier error, pushed the ball up for I Love Saipan, and drilled the equalizer before a free throw from Tinio saved the day for C&J Signs.
I Love Saipan could have avoided the heartbreaker had it accepted the victory via forfeiture earlier. C&J Signs had only four players when the buzzer signaling the start of the match sounded. However, I Love Saipan really wanted to play after more than one week of break and agreed on giving C&J Signs a few more minutes to complete its starting lineup.
C&J Signs Cherries 72 – Tinio 25, Factor 18, Buenavista 11, Salas 9, Galulu 5, Jacob 4.
I Love Saipan 71 – Ruluked 32, Olaitiman 19, Cristobal 9, Mendoza 4, Lontoc 4, Camacho 3.
Scoring by quarters: 14-11, 34-28, 60-46, 72-71.