Ace Hardware eliminated Duenas Compound and kept its finals hopes alive following a 65-58 victory in their playoff game in the Mariana Islands Basketball Federation’s Inaugural Men’s Outdoor League last Saturday at the Gilbert C. Ada Gymnasium.
Ace Hardware held Duenas Compound to three field goals in the second quarter to take control of the game en route to its 7-point win. The victory gave Ace Hardware the right to face the Ol’Aces in tonight’s duel for the second and last finals berth. The winner of the rubber will challenge Saipan Apparel in the championship round where the latter holds a twice-to-beat advantage.
After going back and forth with Duenas Compound in the first quarter, Ace Hardware ended the second with a double-digit lead, 35-24, as the former struggled offensively in that pivotal period. Duenas Compound held a shaky 17-16 advantage after the opening canto and stretched its lead to 3 after Matt Duenas kicked off the second frame with a jumper.
However, Duenas Compound fired blanks after that and knocked in only two field goals in the remaining eight minutes and change of the first half. Douglas Schmidt, who finished the first canto with 11 points and had 9 straight markers midway in that period, was scoreless in the second.
Only Matt Duenas hit more than 2 points for his team in the second-quarter letdown, while Ace Hardware got contributions from Sid Quan and the returning Jun Estolas off the bench and its main gunner Ken Viray. Quan, who did not play in Ace Hardware’s loss to Saipan Apparel last week, had 7 markers in the second canto, while Estolas registered the team’s last 5 points, and Viray added 5.
Viray and Quan went on to can baskets that helped Ace Hardware keep the lead in the third and withstand Duenas’ rally. They recorded all of Ace’s 9 points for their 44-41 lead, going into the final canto.
Quan continued to make up for his earlier absence as he posted 6 more points in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter, while Don Brennan and Troy Rosario, who had a good start but failed to sustain it in the next two periods, stepped up in the final canto. Brennan and Rosario made two field goals apiece and teamed up with Viray in foiling Duenas Compound’s repeated comeback bids. Brennan registered his baskets in back-to-back fashion, while Rosario hit Ace Hardware’s last field goal, and Viray logged 4 of the squad’s final 7 points for a team-high 20.
Duenas Compound failed to recover in the fourth frame as again only Matt Duenas nailed more than two field goals for the squad. Schmidt, who tallied 6 points in the third quarter, made only one field goal and two free throws in the fourth. Duenas Compound’s other gunners were off, too with Ernest Duenas having a quiet 8 points and Perry Inos recording only 5—a far cry from his 21 markers in their 97-86 win over the Patriots in the first round of the playoffs.
Ace Hardware 65 — Viray 20, Quan 15, Rosario 11, Brennan 9, Estolas 5, Younis 3, J. Sablan 2.
Duenas Compound 58 — Schmidt 22, Matt Duenas 20, E. Duenas 8, Inos 5, Santos 3.
Scoring by quarters: 16-17, 35-24, 44-41, 65-58.