Kwon wins Game 2 thriller for Joeten


Joeten’s Dixon Kwon pulls up for an and-1 shot against Tan Holdings’ Paul Quizon during the fourth quarter of Game 2 of their finals series in the JP World caging last Wednesday at the Gillette Multipurpose Gymnasium. (Roselyn B. Monroyo)

Dixon Kwon isn’t the regular season MVP for nothing.

The lefty wingman scored Joeten’s last 6 points, including the go-ahead basket to power his team to a thrilling 84-82 Game 2 win against Tan Holdings in their title series in the 2nd JP World Corp. Customer Appreciation Basketball League last Wednesday night at the Gillette Multipurpose Gymnasium.

With the short best-of-three finals tied, 1-1, Joeten and Tan Holdings go for all the marbles tonight when they collide in the deciding Game 3 that will start at 6:30pm.

Kwon, who was awarded with the regular season MVP trophy before Game 2, made the dagger after Tan Holdings forced the last deadlock in the game, 82-all, off R.J. Nonato’s split free throw. Nonato’s first charity rolled back into the net, while his second was a bit short. Sid Quan then collared the rebound and saw Kwon sprinting to their frontcourt. Kwon got Quan’s pass and without hesitation and with the clock down to the last 11 seconds, the former banked in a running shot that gave Joeten the shaky 2-point advantage.

Tan Holdings sued for time after Quan’s clutch basket with 9.1 seconds remaining in the exciting game. When the match resumed, Adonis Macoto did the inbound from the right sideline and Joeten anticipated that Elmer Esdrelon will get the pass so Kwon, Jason Sablan, and Athan Taisague were all over the Tan Holdings captain. Hounded, Esdrelon decided to dribble toward the top of the key, but lost his footing a bit and nearly squandered the possession. He kept the ball, but was trapped by two Joeten defenders near the midcourt side and was forced to kick the ball out to Nonato. Time pressured, Nonato turned around for a long jumper in front of Tan Holdings’ bench and overshot the mark. Juanito Sambile got the rebound and threw the ball to their frontcourt as time expired with Joeten living for another day and avoiding a monumental collapse.

Joeten had to rely on Kwon’s heroics in the homestretch after wasting a 25-point advantage in the first quarter, 34-9. Incidentally, it was also Kwon who helped Joeten stun Tan Holdings in the opening canto, as he knocked in 13 points in the first 10 minutes of play. He nearly doubled up Tan Holdings’ output as the top-ranked squad was held to four field goals in the first frame.

Tan Holdings then fought back in the second quarter, as it duplicated Joeten’s first-quarter production to move within 8 at the break, 43-51. Esdrelon led Tan Holdings’ comeback bid, firing 11 points in the second canto, while Nonato and Richard Kim combined for 15.

Kwon, after an explosive first quarter, was limited to two field goals in the second and went scoreless in the third, which ended with Tan Holdings bringing the deficit down to 3, 64-67. Tan Holdings continued to threaten Joeten in the third canto despite missing Matt Duenas, who was called for his fifth foul midway in that period.

A quick 4-0 scoring run less than a minute into the fourth frame off Jarett Matsutaro’s banked shot and Paul Quizon’s baseline jumper put Tan Holdings on top for the first time, 68-67, but Kwon answered with an and-1 play to give the lead back to Joeten, 70-68.

It was a seesaw battle in the next five minutes and change before Joeten managed to gain cushion, 80-75, after Kwon knocked in one of his last three baskets, down to the last 2:05 of the match.

Tan Holdings then moved within 1, 79-80, off Elmer Esdrelon’s four free throws. His last two charities came from Alex Lauron’s foul and the former had to leave the court due to five fouls. Later, an Esdrelon feed to Kim resulted in the latter’s point-blanked shot and Tan Holdings’ lead, 81-80.

However, Kwon countered with a fastbreak layup. Esdrelon tried to retaliate on the other end, but threw a wayward shot against two Joeten defenders. Fortunately, Nonato was there to recover the ball and was fouled by Sambile on his way for an undergoal stab.

Nonato took a few minutes before stepping into the foul line due to cramps and his body English worked a bit when his first free throw rimmed back in. He was not that lucky in the second attempt, while Quan and Kwon teamed up in the ensuing play for the most important basket in Game 2.

Kwon scored a game-high 31 points for Joeten, which drew 24 markers from Lauron. Esdrelon paced Tan Holdings with his 25 markers, while Nonato added 15.

Meanwhile, McDonald’s claimed the third place trophy after downing Commonwealth Utilities Corp. in the consolation match, 77-67.

Michael Achas led McDonald’s with his 20 points.

First Game
McDonald’s 77—Mi. Achas 20, Gapor 18, J. Achas 17, Mc. Achas 14, L. Achas 4, C. Achas 3, Gaspar 1.

CUC 67—Manglona 34, Santos 11, Simada 8, Benavente 4, Poquiz 3, Lieto 3, Masga 2, Camacho 2.

Scoring by quarters: 20-27, 43-38, 57-54, 77-67.

Second Game
Joeten 84— Kwon 31, Lauron 24, Sambile 11, Quan 10, Taisague 6, Benghit 2.

Tan Holdings 82—Esdrelon 25, Nonato 15, Duenas 13, Kim 13, Quizon 6, Matsutaro 6, Rivera 4.

Scoring by quarters: 34-9, 51-43, 67-64, 84-82.

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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