Kanoa Resort and Fiesta Resort & Spa Saipan arranged a finals rematch after eliminating their respective semis opponents in the 2017 Tan Holdings Inter-Company Basketball League last Friday at the Gillette Multipurpose Gymnasium.
Fiesta marched into the title game first after ousting Shirley’s Coffee Shop in the curtain-raiser, while Kanoa Resort earned the second finals berth after routing Saipan Tribune, 58-36. Kanoa and Fiesta met in the 2016 season finale with the former winning the deciding Game 2, 85-66, to foil the latter’s bid for a third straight championship.
Fiesta moved a win away from reclaiming the league title as it outgunned Shirley’s in the final half of the second frame of their semis showdown. Shirley’s was still in the thick of the fight behind by only 4, 53-57, when Fiesta went on a 10-2 scoring surge to open a 12-point advantage, 67-55.
Team captain Elmer Esdrelon started the run with a layup and followed it up with four straight free throws, while Lerio Pagarao hit back-to-back baskets. Shirley’s lone field goal in that slowdown was courtesy of Junar Guiab’s drive on Troy Ngirarois.
Shirley’s never recovered from thereon, as Fiesta also won the next exchange with Pagarao still on target and Paul Quizon knocking in a couple of outsides shots. Pagarao paced Fiesta with his 20 points, while Esdrelon and Quizon chipped in 19 and 12, respectively,
In the second semis game, Douglas Schmidt made up for his absence in Kanoa’s last game in the regular season by outscoring the entire Saipan Tribune team, as he exploded for 37 points in their semis win.
Schmidt made all kinds of baskets, causing problems toSaipan Tribune’s defense all night. On offense, Saipan Tribune struggled without its main gunner DJay Ong and Mico Usi’s team-high 16 points were not enough to keep the squad in the game against the defending champion.
Usi and Lester Lapuz nailed multiple baskets early, as Saipan Tribune kept Kanoa within striking distance at the halfway mark of the first half, 13-18. However, Kanoa had a strong finish in the opening 20 minutes of play behind Schmidt to take a promising 32-19 halftime advantage.
Schmidt had 22 points in the first half, including 14 straight in that period and was still unstoppable in the second half to bring Kanoa back into the finals.
Fiesta Resort 77 — Pagarao 20, Esdrelon 19, Quizon 12, Ngirarois 10, Demafelix 8, Francisco 5, Nonato 4, Matsutaro 2, Sedillo 1.
Shirley’s 67 — Diaz 20, Guiab 15, Jugos 10, Laxa 8, Drilon 4, Metran 4, Bordon 4, Palma 2.
Scoring by halves: 38-33, 77-67.
Kanoa Resort 58 — Schmidt 37, Bustillo 7, Francisco 6, Pablo 4, Encarnacion 4.
Saipan Tribune 36 — Usi 16, Lapuz 6, Galarion 6, J. Ong 4, Calibo 2, Edralin 2.
Scoring by halves: 32-19, 58-36.