IT&E and Saipan Vegas are a win away from setting up their finals date in the 2019 Atkins Kroll Marianas International Basketball League after prevailing against their respective semis foes last Friday at the Gilbert C. Ada Gymnasium.
IT&E topped MS Villagomez, 94-59, in Game 1 of their best-of-three semis series, while Saipan Vegas also won by double figures, 96-81, in the opener of its Final Four showdown against Caravan’s. Both IT&E and Saipan Vegas were gunning for a sweep last night in Game 2, while MS Villagomez and Caravan’s were fighting for survival in the short semis series.
Just after MS Villagomez closed the gap at halftime, falling behind by only 5, 37-42, IT&E resumed its dominance in the third period to take a commanding 68-47 lead. Darwin Barbo led the breakaway, as he asserted his might in the paint against the much smaller MS Villagomez’s frontliners to score 10 of his 13 points in the pivotal quarter.
Errol Peredo then finished what Barbo started after firing 12 markers in the final canto.
MS Villagomez, which worked its way back from a 2-13 deficit in the first period and tied the match twice in the second (32-all and 37-all), folded up in third, as only Mel Manibusan hit more than one basket for the squad in the penultimate frame.
Matthew Richardson and Chioni Dela Cruz, who teamed up in MS Villagomez’s fightback late in the first canto and up to the second quarter, were held to one field goal apiece. Anthony Lajara, who was also a key factor in MS Villagomez’s run in the first half after making three triples, was scoreless in the third quarter.
Them in the fourth canto, the offensive struggle continued for MS Villagomez and this time it had no player drilling more than one field goal in the meltdown. Richardson was limited to a triple and a pair of free throws, while Dela Cruz and Lajara were shut down. MS Villagomez was held to three field goals off with Steve King making a triple and Manibusan a deuce, while Eli Aughenbaugh added two free throws.
MS Villagomez played without one of its scorers, Shane Deleon Guerrero.
Caravan’s was also without its gunner—Ken Viray—and Saipan Vegas capitalized on the absence of its opponent’s key player to notch the easy win and move closer to the finals.
Sans Viray, who averaged 22 points per game in the regular season and missed Game 1 due to a leg injury, Caravan’s fell behind early and never recovered.
Saipan Vegas built a promising 31-18 lead, behind the 10 points of Preston Basa and Coby Santos’ 8 in the opening period. Saipan Vegas went on to protect its double-digit lead in the last three quarters, as they ran a balance offense, while Caravan’s clearly missed its go-to-guy.
IT&E 94—De Guzman 17, Peredo 15, Barbo 13, Aranda 12, Demapan 10, De Dios 8, Flores 7, Rabasto 7, Talania 3, Rafols 2.
MS Villagomez 59—Richardson 21, Manibusan 11, Lajara 9, King 7, Dela Cruz 6, Aughenbaugh 5.
Scoring by quarters: 22-14, 42-37, 68-47, 94-59.
Saipan Vegas 96—Atan 17, Santos 16, P. Basa 11, Schmidt 11, Rabauliman 9, Kabiriel 7, Sablan 6, Libue 4, Deleon Guerrero 4, Bondoc 4, Onopwy 3, Diaz 2.
Caravan’s 81—Andrew 15, Factor 14, Standish 12, Quan 10, Villarin 8, Rasa 6, Younis 4, Castro 4, Tenorio 3, Tudela 2.
Scoring by quarters: 31-18, 50-34, 73-62, 96-81.