Kanoa Resort and Fiesta Resort & Spa eased their way through the first round of the playoffs to move closer to a finals stint in the 2016 Tan Holdings Inter-Company Basketball League.
Kanoa pounded JP Mambas, 86-59, in the curtain-raiser last Friday at the Gillette Multipurpose Gymnasium to set up a battle for the first finals ticket against Fiesta, which also earned an easy victory over Shirley’s Coffee Shop in the second game, 77-51.
The defending champion Fiesta and the undefeated Kanoa will square off for the first finals berth and the twice-to-beat advantage (in the championship round) that goes with it tonight at 6:30pm, while JP Mambas and Shirley’s will collide in a win-or-go-home tiff at 7:30pm.
Kanoa, which had a 10-game sweep in the double-round robin, extended its winning streak to 11 and moved one victory away from advancing to the finals despite playing without the injured Matt Duenas. The solid games of Douglas Schmidt and Matt’s cousin, Ernest, were enough to power Kanoa to another lopsided victory this season. Schmidt had a game-high 32 points, while Duenas chipped in 21 as they combined for more than half of Kanoa’s total output.
Schmidt started the playoff game with 5 straight points and scored 7 of Kanoa’s first 9, while Duenas knocked the next 8 markers. The former Palau National Team member went on to finish the half with 13 points, while Danny Agulto hit two triples in the closing minutes of the opening frame to give Kanoa a 35-19 advantage.
JP Mambas found itself behind by double digits early as it played with a depleted roster. Only six players showed up for the match, leaving Tony Raho and Ferdie De La Torre the tough task to keep JP in the game. Dela Torre hit JP’s last 6 points and had 8 after the first half, while Raho contributed 5.
Without enough manpower, JP failed to bring the deficit down to single digit in the second half, while Schmidt and Duenas continued to lead Kanoa en route to the 27-point winning margin.
Raho had 17 markers on a losing effort, while De La Torre tallied 14.
In the second game, Fiesta also got off to a good start, building a 20-point advantage at the break, 42-22 and keeping the safe distance to move to the semifinals.
After a series of single-digit scoring in the regular season, Elmer Esdrelon stepped up in the first game in the playoffs, knocking 14 of his 16 points in the opening half to lift Fiesta to a commanding lead. Fradel Sedillo and Paul Quizon backed him up, combining for 13 more markers in the first 20 minutes of play.
Shirley’s had four players making at least two baskets each in the first half, but these were not enough to match Fiesta’s offensive firepower and the former clearly missed Erick Dela Rosa. The Shirley’s big man left Saipan for the mainland at the conclusion of the regular season.
Without a threat inside, Shirley’s failed to overhaul Fiesta’s lead in the second half, while the latter retained the big lead, thanks to a strong finish from Adonis Macoto and a few more baskets from Sedillo and Jerald Rivera. Macoto had 10 points in the final half, while Sedillo added 6 more points, and Rivera posted all his 7 markers in the payoff frame.
Kanoa 86 — Schmidt 32, E. Duenas 21, Bustillo 9, Agulto 8, Pablo 6, Arroz 5, Usi 3, Villagomez 2,
JP Mambas 59 — Raho 17, De La Torre 14, Rabago 12, Chan 10, Calibo 6.
Scoring by halves: 35-19, 86-59.
Fiesta 77— Quizon 19, Esdrelon 16, Macoto 15, Sedillo 13, Villamena 7, Matsutaro 5, Lavarias 2.
Shirley’s 51 — Nicdao 15, Jugos 11, Pamintuan 7, Pollisco 6, Drilon 6, Catungal 4, Palma 2.
Scoring by halves: 42-22, 77-51.