AXE Proa is now the only unbeaten team in UFO-Budweiser Open Division Basketball League, following its 98-94 victory over erstwhile leader I Love Ladder Beach last Tuesday night at the Gillette Multipurpose Gymnasium.
Proa extended its winning run to five and will go for a sweep on Nov. 5 when it duels Kanoa Resort (1-3) in the last day of the regular season. I Love Ladder Beach is done in the round-robin preliminary with its 5-1 slate, losing the outright semifinals berth, which Proa secured after prevailing in the battle of undefeated teams. The automatic semis ticket is given to the top finisher in the league and even if Proa loses to Kanoa next week, the former would still have the edge in a tiebreak over I Love Ladder Beach due to the winner over the other rule. I Love Ladder Beach will then contest the three remaining semis spot against five other squads.
With the semis ticket at stake, Proa and I Love Ladder Beach exchanged blows in the first three quarters, but the latter failed to throw the killer punches down the homestretch after making only one field goal in the last three minutes and change of the important match.
Down at 83-92, I Love Ladder Beach launched a short 8-1 run to move within a basket, 91-93, with 3:29 left in the fourth canto. However, I Love Ladder Beach went on a slump, while Proa converted rally-halting baskets. In the I Love Ladder Beach’s drought, Rolly Paraiso missed key throws , Ken McCain faltered on two point-blank shots, and Elgene Mangali, Dennis Vinas, and Marlon Sison combined for 0-for-8 shooting from downtown. Sison finally hit a triple in the last four seconds of the match to end the spell and peg the final score.
Before the meltdown, I Love Ladder Beach managed to recover from a 13-point halftime deficit, 40-53. It even led by 6 at start of the fourth quarter, 78-72, as it exploded for 38 points in the third after converting four triples and getting 21 markers from Rolly Paraiso and Wowie Abuel.
However, Proa wiped out the lead quickly with an 8-0 start with less than two minutes gone by in the fourth. Proa, which opened the fourth with a triple from Josh Sablan, grabbed momentum of the game when I Love Ladder Beach’s Alex Standish fouled Lerio Pagarao on the act of 3-point shooting and was also whistled for a technical foul. Standish fouled out, while Pagarao went 3-for-3 from the stripe and scored two more points in the ensuing possession to put Proa on top, 80-78.
Proa hung tough in the end, while I Love Ladder Beach failed on its comeback bid after muffing a lot of triples and missing the contribution of Paraiso and Abuel in the fourth canto. Paraiso had only 2 points in the payoff period, while Abuel was scoreless. I Love Ladder Beach, which counts on its 3-point shooting a lot, hit only 8, a far cry from the 18 it drilled in its 112-96 victory over Mobil last week. Proa outgunned I Love Ladder Beach from beyond the arc, drilling 14.
Mobil 111, Kanoa 96
In the second game, Freddie Pelisamen sizzled for 38 points to improve Mobil’s record to 2-3.
Pelisamen nailed 17 of his total points in the fourth quarter to lead Mobil’s breakaway. Mobil was ahead by only 5 at the end of the end, 76-71, when Pelisamen scored in streaks to hand Kanoa its third straight loss.
After Jun Estolas opened Mobil’s offense in the fourth with a triple, Pelisamen dropped 5 consecutive points and then had another string of points (6) midway in that period before getting 6 more straight markers in the closing minutes. Pelisamen’s second-half explosion made up for his absence in the majority of the first half. The former CNMI National Team player also had 17 points in the third quarter to keep his team’s distance against the young guns of Kanoa.
Mobil/JP World 111 – Pelisamen 38, De Guzman 14, Estolas 13, Demapan 11, Gamboa 11, Gapor 7, Peredo 6, Kaipat 4, Galzote 2.
Kanoa Resort 96 – Basa 25, Duenas 23, Brennan 16, Manglona 12, L. Sablan 5, Coldeen 5, Cruz 4, Dikito 3, S. Sablan 2.
Scoring by quarters: 25-16, 46-45, 76-71.
AXE Proa 98 – Pagarao 33, Sablan 19, Barcinas 12, Libuw 11, Lizama 9, Inos 8, Villacrusis 3, Rosario 1.
I Love Ladder Beach 94 – Abuel 15, Paraiso 15, Standish 14, Vinas 14, Mangali 11, Sison 6, McCain, De Leon 4, Montano 2.
Scoring by quarters: 23-27, 53-40, 72-78, 98-94.