The Ol’Aces outclassed Rollers White, 87-84, in their playoff game in the U18 division of the Inaugural Frank M. Diaz Memorial Youth League last Tuesday at the Gilbert C. Ada Gymnasium.
With the victory, the Ol’Aces completed the Final Four cast, joining the Sonics, Kagman Rizers, and Rollers Blue, while Rollers White was eliminated. The Sonics and Kagman booked the first two semis berths after downing Wong, 65-43, and Tanapag, 70-53, respectively, last week, while Rollers Blue defeated Rollers Red last Monday, 69-51.
The Ol’Aces-Rollers White tiff was the closest playoff game so far in the youth league with the former knocking in crucial free throws to escape with the 3-point win. Aitan Aiferson and Edmund Borja had a split to score the Ol’Aces’ last 2 points, while Irvin Olopai drilled the team’s final field goal to keep their shaky lead.
Olopai ended up top-scoring for the Ol’Aces with his 13 markers. Greg Sablan also had 13 points, while Napu Atalig and Ignacio Borja chipped in 11. With four Ol’Aces players tallying double figures, the fourth semifinalist managed to offset the 30-point production of Jethro Cruz.
Cruz waxed hot early, firing 9 points in the first quarter to keep the fourth-ranked Rollers White afloat, 16-17.
The fifth-ranked Ol’Aces then managed to gain some distance by halftime, 43-35, behind the combined 15 points of Borja and Olopai. Olopai had a string of 5 points in the first part of the second frame, while Olopai dropped 7 of the Ol’Aces’ last 9 markers for their 8-point cushion.
The Ol’Aces then kept the upper hand in the third, 68-64, as Sablan, Ignacio Borja, and Aiferson worked together and countered Cruz’s baskets. Cruz then slowed down in the fourth, as he was held to two field goals, leaving Kenji Abobo and Dalton Dancoe to carry the fight for Rollers White against the Ol’Aces that had too many options on offense to close out the game.
Meanwhile, the Ol’Aces were battling the top-ranked 670 Sonics last night for the first finals berth and results of the game were unavailable at press time.
The 670 Sonics eased their way into the semis after pulling away from Wong in the second quarter of their playoff game last Monday. The Sonics were still behind after the first canto, 12-14, when they outgunned Wong in the second, 28-4, for a big 40-18 halftime advantage. The regular season top finisher never looked back to advance to the Final Four against the Ol’Aces.
In the other semis pairing today, the second-seeded Kagman will take on the third-ranked Rollers Blue. The winners of the Final Four pairings will go for all the marbles tomorrow in the 5pm finals.
Ol’Aces 87— Sablan 13, Olopai 13, Atalig 12, I. Borja 11, E. Borja 8, N-Nes 7, Aiferson 7, Kabiriel 6, Cristobal 4, Castillo 2.
Rollers White 84 — Cruz 30, Darag 12, Dancoe 11, Deocares 8, Abobo 8, Ellama 6, Oangilinan 3.
Scoring by quarters: 17-16, 43-35, 68-64, 87-84.