Ali’i Blue Haus nears regular season sweep


Ali’’ Blue Haus’ Edwin Santos, rights, collides with Armatech’s Jerome Malasarte on his way to an and-1 play in the fourth quarter of their game in the UFO caging last Saturday at the Gilbert C. Ada Gymnasium. (Roselyn B. Monroyo)

Ali’i Blue Haus/Bayani moved two wins away from sweeping the regular season of the 2016 UFO/IT&E Inter-Organizational Basketball League after slipping past Armatech/MDX, 77-73, last Saturday at the Gilbert C. Ada Gymnasium.

Ali’i Blue Haus now has a 6-0 record to keep the top spot in the nine-team field and it can retain its perfect mark if it wins over Stephen’s Pawnshop/NMBA tomorrow and against Save More/MIFICPA on Nov. 17. Armatech is still winless after three games.

Armatech nearly handed Ali’i Blue Haus its first loss as the former led by as much as 11 in the closing minutes of the third quarter, 61-50. Armatech hung on to the driver’s seat in the majority of the fourth canto before committing costly turnovers in the homestretch to fail in its bid to enter the win column.

Ali’i Blue Haus wiped out the double-digit deficit with a 16-6 run in the first seven minutes and change of the fourth frame, 68-67. Junar Guiab capped the surge with his short jumper and six of his teammates contributed in the rally, while Armatech was held to two field goals and two charities.

Jun Alipio gave Armatech its first basket at the 4:49 mark of the final canto and later made the team’s other field goal when he picked up the rebound off Martin Moreno’s second free throw miss and banked the ball in. Moreno scored the 2 other points in Armatech’s meltdown, while Alipio’s putback lifted their team to a 66-61 advantage at the halfway mark of the final canto.

However, Ali’i Blue Haus overhauled the deficit when Edwin Santos made an and-1 play, Darwin Barbo hit a point-blanked shot, and Guiab canned a jumper. All three baskets came off Armatech’s errors at the backcourt against the pressure defense of Ali’i Blue Haus.

Armatech then momentarily regained the upper hand, 69-68, when Hae Jun Park nailed a wide-open layup from an Ali’i Blue Haus’ miscue. However a triple from Ed Diaz swung the lead back to the unbeaten team, 71-69, 2:12 left in the match. Bart Demapan made it a 3-point game with his split free throw after Ali’i Blue Haus reclaimed possession as Mark Asuhan lost the ball to the sideline while facing two defenders.

A pair of free throws from Stephen Tolosa in the ensuing play kept Armatech in the game, 71-72, and the squad had a chance to grab the lead when Park anticipated Manolo Manalo’s jump pass. However, Park’s forward pass was too far as the sprinting Alipio tried to chase the ball down the baseline and throw it back to the court, but failed.

Ali’i Blue Haus then countered with a layup from Santos for more breathing space, 74-71, but Armatech refused to give up as Bernard Montano drilled a running jumper to move his team within one, 73-74, down to the last 22 seconds of the game.

Ali’i Blue Haus sued for time and when the match resumed, it did a good job of avoiding Armatech players, who were trying to give up fouls. Ali’i Blue Haus’ good ball rotation spotted an open Diaz at the right baseline and the veteran wingman upped their advantage to 3, 76-73, 13 seconds left on the clock.

Again, Ali’i Blue Haus played tough defense at the backcourt and before Montano crossed midcourt, he lost possession, returning the ball to their foe, just 6 seconds remaining in the game. Armatech was then forced to give up a foul and Demapan made his second free throw for the insurance. Park threw a long triple for the last shot of the match and missed, as the ball only hit the board.

Ali’i Blue Haus 77— Esdrelon 15, E. Diaz 13, Barbo 12, Pagarao 7, Manalo 7, Guiab 6, Demapan 6, Santos 5, Moises 3.

Armatech 73 — Alipio 20, Moreno 14, Park 12, Montano 10, J. Malasarte 6, Berline 6, Tolosa 2, Asuhan 1.

Scoring by quarters: 19-16, 36-28, 61-52, 77-73.

Roselyn Monroyo | Reporter
Roselyn Monroyo is the sports reporter of Saipan Tribune. She has been covering sports competitions for more than two decades. She is a basketball fan and learned to write baseball and football stories when she came to Saipan in 2005.

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