Lakay-Islander is a game away from winning the open division of the Inaugural SCLC Basketball League after turning back Team Marianas, 97-91, in Game 1 of their best-of-three finals last Saturday at the Gillette Multi-Purpose Gymnasium in Gualo Rai.
The outcome wasn’t determined until the final minute of the game. After Lakay-Islander took an 86-78 lead, Team Marianas inched closer with a stick-back by Jack Aranda and a booming triple by Chioni Dela Cruz with 5:15 left in the ballgame.
Sidney Quan had a personal 4-0 run for Lakay-Islander to make it 90-83, but Team Marianas whittled that lead down to 4 points, 90-86, with another 3-pointer from Dela Cruz.
Following several fruitless forays by both teams including a missed technical free throw by Team Marianas, Dela Cruz again rose to the occasion by nailing a third straight triple to make it 90-89 with time down to 2:56.
Good thing, shooting guard Preston Basa rifled a three of his own to make it a 4-point spread, 93-89, before Zeric Gant pulled up from 8 feet to give Lakay-Islander a 6-point advantage entering the last two-minute mark of the contest.
Coby Santos stopped the bleeding for Team Marianas to make it 95-91 before Basa copied his idol, Dwyane Wade, with a slick fake-pass-then-shoot move in the final 1:18 of the match that pegged the final score.
Team Marianas actually grabbed the early lead with Santos firing 10 points in the first quarter, which they took 27-26. Lakay-Islander continued to trail Team Marianas at the end of the first half, 48-51, before taking a candlestick lead, 70-68, entering the fourth and final quarter.
Basa led all scorers with 29 points, 12 of them coming in the payoff period, while Marvin Rabauliman and Jet Jandoc scored 16 points apiece in support. Dela Cruz pumped 12 of his team-high 24 points in the fourth quarter to lead Team Marianas, which also got 18 points from Santos.
In the third place match prior to Game 1 of the open division finals, Blue Haus won by default as The Game wasn’t able to marshal enough players. Lakay-Islander advanced to the finals after routing a depleted The Game squad, 94-77, in the second game last Thursday. Earlier, Team Marianas walloped Blue Haus, 99-82, to punch the first ticket to the championship series.
In the battle for third in the masters division last Wednesday, NAPA Auto nipped Marianas Dental Center, 77-76, thanks to the late-game heroics of Jorge De Guzman. Results of the best-of-three finals in the masters division between Blue Haus and Eagle Construction will be published in the next issue of Saipan Tribune.
Lakay/Islanders 97 – Basa 29, Rabauliman 16, Jandoc 16, Gant 10, Escano 10, Quan 8, Palacios 6.
Team Marianas 91 – Dela Cruz 24, Santos 18, Deleon Guerrero 10, Aranda 10, Castro 9, Naraja 8, Augenbaugh 7, Villarin 3, Sablan 2.
Scoring by quarters: 25-27, 48-51, 70-69, 97-91.