The Ol’Aces showed poise in the homestretch to beat Saipan Apparel, 82-73, in the deciding Game 2 of their title showdown in the Mariana Islands Basketball Federation’s Inaugural Men’s Outdoor League last Tuesday at the Gilbert C. Ada Gymnasium.
The Ol’Aces hit clutch baskets and took care of the ball well in the closing minutes of the tightly fought match, while Saipan Apparel committed costly turnovers that sealed the doom for the team, which came into the finals with a twice-to-beat advantage. The Ol’Aces eased past Saipan Apparel in Game 1, 89-68, to force the rubber.
Freddie Pelisamen and Dan Barcinas delivered the important baskets for the Ol’Aces in Game 2, combining for 9 of the squad’s last 11 points. Pelisamen and Barcinas’ timely buckets offset the solid game veteran Ed Diaz played in the do-or-die match.
Diaz’s triple gave Saipan Apparel the lead for the last time, 70-69, 2:53 left in the game. The Ol’Aces then quickly reclaimed the upper hand off Jack Lizama’s short jumper, while Saipan Apparel turned the ball over three times in the ensuing plays, and the eventual champions capitalized on these errors to take a 76-70 advantage, 1:33 remaining on the clock.
Jerome Norita threw two errant passes in that crucial phase, while Derrick Rangamar’s feed inside was intercepted, allowing Freddie Pelisamen a fastbreak layup and later a split free throw after being fouled on his way to another basket in transition. Barcinas scored the 2 other points for the Ol’Aces, banking a fadeaway jumper.
A Diaz putback off Syl Teregeyo’s miss followed by Rangamar’s split charities kept Saipan Apparel in the match, 73-76, 59 seconds to go in the fourth. Rangamar scored on his second free throw and the Ol’Aces made a quick inbound, catching Saipan Apparel’s defense napping as after just two passes Barcinas was already in their frontcourt and made a layup, plus a foul on Diaz. Barcinas went on to complete the 3-point play to bring the Ol’Aces’ lead back to 6 and two more errors from Saipan Apparel wrapped up Game 2. Pelisamen had another split out of first blunder, while Lizama nailed a layup in the last miscue off the inbound play to peg the final score.
Pelisamen top-scored for the Ol’Aces with his 17 points—12 of them came in the fourth quarter where he played without relief. He also went 6-for-8 from the foul line.
“He was looking at me, asking for a breather. I looked away because we need him to be there. You know Freddie, he is not afraid to take those big time shots and I am happy that he delivered,” said coach Elias Rangamar.
The Ol’Aces had to rely on a workhorse player like Pelisamen as Saipan Apparel, behind the leadership of Diaz, stood toe-to-toe with the Ol’Aces in the fourth quarter before collapsing in the end. Saipan Apparel once faced a 10-point deficit in the third period, 45-35, before moving within one at the end of that canto, 50-51. Diaz and Kelvin Fitial teamed up in bringing Saipan Apparel back into the game.
Saipal Apparel even took a 54-51 lead in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter off Fitial and Ben Lisua’s point-blanked shots before the Ol’Aces regrouped and the seesaw battle began. The Ol’Aces managed to stay in the game with Jesus Iguel’s hustle plays, as the former sprinter scored 6 early points in the fourth before being gassed out and taking a breather midway in the final canto.
Barcinas, along with Lizama took a break, too, but just for a short time, while Pelisamen remained on the floor, taking every opportunity to hit baskets that spelled the difference in the rubber.
Saipan Apparel, on the other hand, could not get into scoring position as it turned the ball over even before the leather could reach either Fitial in the paint or Diaz outside. Errors were not recorded in the match, but Saipan Apparel had more than 10 in the fourth quarter alone.
Ol’Aces 82 — Pelisamen 17, Barcinas 14, Iguel 14, Lizama 13, Nakashima 6, Basa 5, Palino 4 Libuw 4.
Saipan Apparel 73 — Diaz 20, Fitial 15, Andrew 11, Lisua 10, Teregeyo 4, Rangamar 4, Lizama 3.
Scoring by quarters: 18-19, 36-31, 51-50, 82-73.