I Love Saipan’s upset axe hit Fong’s Bakery as the quarterfinal round of the 2nd DL Corp. Invitational Basketball League started last Friday night at the Gualo Rai Basketball Court.
I Love Saipan, which took the last playoff berth in Pool B and eliminated third-ranked CJ Signs last Wednesday, this time stunned second-seeded Fong’s Bakery, 75-68, to bag the second semis berth in the tournament. Earlier in the first game, Docomo Pacific booked a semis ticket after ousting San Roque, 77-54.
In the second match of the night, I Love Saipan leaned on the combined efforts of Mike Olaitiman, Gyles Ruluked, and Bryan Lontoc to break the back of the favored Fong’s Bakery, which finished second in Pool A in the regular season and won three of their last four games in the eliminations to take the outright quarterfinal berth.
Ruluked, who scored 21 points in their 79-75 triumph against CJ Signs in the first round of the playoffs, picked up where he left off, knocking in 11 early points to give I Love Saipan a 19-14 lead at the end of the opening canto. Lontoc and Olaitiman made the four other baskets of I Love Saipan in the first frame.
Then in the second, Olaitiman dropped I Love Saipan’s first 5 markers and nailed 2 more points, while Ruluked added 6 more to keep the team’s distance against Fong’s at halftime, 34-29.
Lontoc was held scoreless in the second quarter, but showed up in the third with 8 points to help Olaitiman tow I Love Saipan’s offense as fatigue began to take its toll on Ruluked. The trio then joined forces anew in the fourth with Ruluked and Lontoc scoring 8 of I Love Saipan’s first 10 points, while Olaitiman nailed 7 of their last 9 markers.
Olaitiman went on to top top-score for I Love Saipan with his 23 points, while Lontoc finished with 16. Edwin Santos and J.R. Barrios had 13 points apiece for Fong’s Bakery, which also drew double figures from three other players, but their baskets were not enough to counter the steady trio of I Love Saipan.
Meanwhile, Docomo held San Roque to 7 points in the final canto to notch the 23-point victory.
Docomo was ahead by only 9 at the end of the third period, 56-47, before dominating San Roque in the fourth for the easy win. Rolly Paraiso anchored the fourth-quarter attack, as he outgunned the entire San Roque crew with his 11 points, eight of them were scored in streak early in the final frame. San Roque fell short in the fourth, nailing only three field goals.
Paraiso finished with 16 points, while Eugene Manglona had 17 for San Roque, but was scoreless in the fourth quarter collapse. San Roque played catch up from start to finish after missing key players in the first half. Angelo Fernando suited up for San Roque in the third and contributed only 5 points, a far cry from the 26 markers he recorded in their 64-56 playoff victory over Natural Mystic last week.
With Docomo and I Love Saipan in the Final Four, only two semis berths are left. Island Floral and Chinatown dueled for the third semis seat last night, while San Antonio and NMI Contractor battled for the fourth and final semis slot. The two remaining quarterfinals pairing were originally scheduled for Saturday, but were rained-out.
Docomo 77 – Paraiso 16, Sison 16, Tudela 12, Villacrusis 10, Sanciangco 10, Montes 4, Camacho 4.
San Roque 54 – Manglona 17, Alipio 10, Mi. Achas 6, Fernando 5, Mc. Achas 5, Guiang 3, Gapor 2.
Scoring by quarters: 17-12, 41-33, 56-47, 77-54.
I Love Saipan 75 – Olaitiman 23, Ruluked 21, Lontoc 16, Cristobal 9, Rabago 4, Aldan 2.
Fong’s Bakery 68 – Santos 13, Barrios 13, Guntar 10, Reyes 10, Bahillo 10, David 6, Camacho 4.
Scoring by quarters: 19-14, 34-29, 57-45, 75-68.