MJD nips Armatech in finale


MJD Enterprises’ Bobby Vargas, right, draws a foul on Armatech’s George Poquiz during the second quarter of their title game in the masters division of the San Antonio caging last Saturday at the San Antonio court. (Roselyn B. Monroyo)

MJD Enterprises took the masters division crown in the 2015 San Antonio Community Action Network Basketball League after pulling off a 74-71 victory over Armatech last Saturday at the San Antonio court.

MJD saved enough gas on its tank to fuel up a second half comeback, which was completed by Jun Alipio’s three free throws and a couple of defensive stops in the closing seconds of the exciting finale.

Alipio knocked in his first two free throws in the last 18.5 seconds after drawing a foul on Yosh Gabaldon to break the last deadlock in the match, 73-71.

MJD then sued for time after Alipio’s perfect performance from the foul line to discuss some defensive strategies, while Armatech did the same to talk things over on the offensive end. When the game resumed, Armatech ran a nearly flawless play with Martin Moreno using his teammates’ picks to roll to the right baseline and receive Bong Malasarte’s inbound pass.

Moreno went on to step ahead of his defender Jojo Parcotillo and drove strong to the basket, but his banked shot which was challenged by Jun Tabora had too much spin and went past the right side of the rim. Alipio collared the rebound after Moreno’s sorry miss and the former was fouled anew.

Alipio muffed the first charity, but made the second one, leaving Armatech with no choice but to call another timeout and attempt for a game-tying triple with 10.8 seconds remaining on the clock.

Dindo Pablo tried to square off for the triple, but was well covered so he was forced to drive and dish the ball out to Moreno, who was at the left key and also made the motion to shoot from downtown. However, he had Parcotillo in front of him, while Tabora also provided help defense. In the end, Moreno kicked the ball out to James Abuy at the right key and the latter still had the ball on his hands and was shadowed by MJD’s Randy Mungcal when time expired and Armatech failed on its bid to pull off an upset against its top-ranked foe.

It was a heartbreaker for Armatech, as it led by as much as 14 in the second period, 42-28, before falling apart in the second half. Armatech posted the biggest spread in the finale after drawing 11 points from Abuy in the second quarter alone.

MJD, which was on top by 3 at the beginning of the second frame, 20-17, fell behind after coach Marvin Deocares opted to sit out Alex Ocampo and Randy Mungcal in the majority of that period. Ocampo spent a lot of minutes on the bench in the second quarter despite waxing hot early and scoring 8 points.

Later after the finale, Deocares explained he was afraid that fatigue may caught up with his key players in the homestretch so he decided to rest them in the second quarter to prepare for the tough grind ahead.

The gamble paid off as Ocampo returned in the second half fresh and drilled 7 points in the third period to move MJD within three, 54-57, entering the final frame.

In the fourth quarter, Mungcal began MJD’s scoring with his 5 straight points, including a triple that gave the lead back to his team, 59-57. MJD went on to open a 69-61 advantage, as it held Armatech to two field goals off James Abuy’s short jumper and an undergoal stab from the foul-troubled Bruce Berline for nearly the first six minutes of the final quarter.

However, Armatech fought back and equalized, 71-all, off Abuy and Pablo’s triples and a putback from Berline, 25 seconds left on the clock. In between that rally, Armatech could have reclaimed the upper hand, but Pablo missed two free throws and two treys. MJD, on the other hand, scored only 2 points in the next three minutes and change after building an 8-point cushion off Tabora’s pullup jumper near the foul line.

Armatech tried to retaliate quickly after Tabora’s basket, but Pablo faltered a fastbreak layup. Fortunately, Berline was there for the trailer and the putback to tie the match. However, Berline in an attempt to steal the ball from Mungcal after the inbound play, committed his fifth and last foul, leaving Armatech without a strong presences in the paint in the closing seconds of the match. Armatech gave up another foul with Gabaldon trying to reach in against Alipio on MJD’s frontcourt, sending the latter to the stripe for the pressure-packed charities.

Alipio delivered the clutch free throws and added one more on their next possession to hand MJD the masters championship.

Alipio was one of the five MJD players who scored in double figures in the finale with his 11 markers. Tabora also had 11, while Ocampo paced MJD with his 15 markers. De Guzman and Mungcal tallied 13 each with the former stepping up in the second quarter to prevent Armatech from pulling away in the first half.

Abuy led all scorers with his 18 points, while Berline chipped in 17 despite being saddled with four fouls late in the second canto.

Meanwhile, VM Production took the third place trophy after a no-show from GMJ/IKKI Wholesale in the consolation game.

MJD 74—Ocampo 15, De Guzman 13, Mungcal 13, Tabora 11, Alipio 11, Parcotillo 6, Vargas 5.

Armatech 71—Abuy 18, Berline 17, Pablo 12, Moreno 10, Gabaldon 6, Malasarte 4, Poquiz 4.

Scoring by quarters: 20-17, 35-42, 54-57, 74-71.

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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