Blue Haus and Laguna/Erika’s Catering finished in the Top 2 in the first round of the 2013 UFO-Budweiser Masters Division Basketball League following their separate wins last Saturday at the Gillette Multipurpose Gymnasium of the TSL Sports Complex.
Blue Haus whipped Pacific Islands Club in the first game, 106-84, while Laguna nipped Armatech/MDX in the second match, 59-57. Blue Haus completed the first round with a perfect 5-0 record, while Laguna earned a 4-1 card. Armatech fell to a 2-3 slate for fourth place behind Degree (3-2), while Shakir Realty/MAFEA (1-4) and PIC (0-5) rounded out the field.
Laguna kept up with Blue Haus in the team standings and notched its fourth win in a row after showing poise in the homestretch of the back-and-forth game. Melvin Villarin canned back-to-back baskets and made a crucial steal, while Jun Alipio drilled two free throws to lift Laguna to the 2-point win.
Villarin’s first basket came with less than a minute left in the fourth and gave Laguna a 55-54 lead. MDX missed on the other end and Laguna went for a fastbreak, but the former’s George Poquiz broke up the play and threw the ball toward their frontcourt. However, the ball landed on the wrong hands with Villarin picking it up and getting a big break, as he wasn’t called for a backing violation when he dribbled from their court toward MDX’s and instead drew a foul on Bernard Montano.
MDX had fouls to give so Laguna was forced to reset play from the sideline with Amor Zapata inbounding the ball and spotting Villarin cutting toward the open right wing, as their foe’s defense sagged on the left. Villarin made the easy basket to increase the lead to 3, which was stretched to 5 points, 59-54, after another MDX muffed offensive set and Alipio went 2-for-2 from the foul line in the ensuing plays.
MDX was left with 22.3 seconds to hit a crucial shot and remain in contention, but Montano faltered on his triple. Fortunately for MDX, Zapata fouled Montano and the latter drained all three free throws to move his team within two, 57-59, with 8.3 seconds left on the clock.
An errant inbound pass by Alipio returned possession to MDX, which had a chance to either send the game into overtime with a 2-point basket or win it outright with a triple. Montano opted for a triple, but missed and there was a battle for the loose ball, which Martin Moreno picked up. However, the MDX guard was not aware that the clock was winding down and made several dribbles before throwing up a prayer after the final buzzer had already sounded.
Meanwhile, Blue Haus withstood’ PIC’s hot shooting in the first quarter to cruise to the 22-point win.
Blue Haus fell behind in the first canto, 20-22, as Carlos Ballesteros stunned the league-leading team with his five triples. James Abuy also hit one for PIC, which earned its last six baskets from downtown.
PIC opened the second with two more triples, one from Abuy and Raymond Tolentino, but Ballesteros lost his touch, allowing Blue Haus to take control of the match. Blue Haus pounded PIC inside behind Junar Guiab and Edsel Mendoza to grab the upper hand at halftime, 45-37. Blue Haus never looked back from thereon, as it took its turn on connecting triples in the second half. Edgar Pangelinan hit six triples for Blue Haus in the final 20 minutes of play.
Blue Haus 106 – Pangelinan 24, Mendoza 17, Guiab 12, Rebuyon 10, Diaz 10, F. Palacios 6, G. Palacios 6, Factor 4, Valencia 2, Manabat 2.
PIC 84 – Abuy 31, Ballesteros 29, Tolentino 10, Bartolo 8.
Scoring by quarters: 20-22, 45-37, 75-58, 106-84.
Laguna 59 – Catalla 21, Tabora 15, Alipio 11, Villarin 4, Geli 2, Barrozo 2, Guinto 2, Zapata 2, Darag 1.
Armatech 57 – Moreno 20, Berline 13, Montano 8, Pineda 4, Detera 2, Ebuen 2, Crisostimo 2, Malasarte 1, Park 1.
Scoring by quarters: 11-11, 23-22, 36034, 59-57.