The Mariana Islands Basketball Federation’s Inaugural Men’s Outdoor League is now down to two teams following the Ol’Aces’ 88-83 victory over Ace Hardware last Tuesday at the Gilbert C. Ada Gymnasium.
The Ol’Aces advanced to the finals against Saipan Apparel, which holds the twice-to-beat advantage in the championship round after sweeping its first three games in the playoffs. Game 1 of the finals will be played today, while Game 2, if necessary if set for tomorrow. Both matches are scheduled to start at 7pm.
Dan Barcinas, who scored only 6 points in the Ol’Aces’ loss to Saipan Apparel last week, 83-88, for the battle for the first finals ticket, stepped up in the make-or-break after earning 20 points. He gave the Ol’Aces the sizeable lead in the pivotal third period after drilling five triples. His 15-point explosion in the penultimate quarter turned the Ol’Aces’ 44-37 halftime lead to a 70-54 advantage, going into the fourth.
Down by double digits and with its finals hopes slowly fading away, Ace Hardware leaned on Marvin Rabauliman to rally back the team. Rabauliman, who missed Ace Hardware’s first three playoff games, scored 14 points in the final canto, but these were not enough to save his team from elimination.
The Ol’Aces countered Rabauliman’s one-man show by drawing timely baskets from multiple players to withstand Ace Hardware’s comeback bid in the fourth canto and arrange a finals duel with Saipan Apparel.
Ace Hardware missed a finals trip after failing to sustain its good start against the Ol’Aces. Sid Quan fired up early for Ace Hardware, recording 10 points to lift his squad to a 24-19 advantage.
Quan was then held to two field goals in the second period, while Jack Lizama played better in that period, tallying 8 points to finish the half with 12 markers and help the Ol’Aces grab the driver’s seat at the break. Five other Ol’Aces players hit the board in the second quarter, while only Quan knocked in more than a field goal for Ace Hardware.
Ace Hardware picked up its scoring in the third, but failed to put the clamps on Barcinas, whose impressive outside shooting was perfect timing as the Ol’Aces played without gunner Preston Basa for the second straight time. Basa is still nursing an injury he sustained from a training session last week.
With Barcinas catching fire in the third period, the Ol’Aces built enough cushion to survive Ace Hardware’s rally in the fourth.
Besides Barcinas, Lizama and Freddie Pelisamen also broke into double figures for the Ol’Aces. Lizama had 17 points, while Pelisamen chipped in 16, and five other Ol’Aces players added at least 4 points apiece.
Quan led Ace Hardware with his 25 markers, while Rabauliman contributed 18. Ken Viray was the third Ace Hardware player to score in twin digits with his 11 points, but he could not nail baskets in streaks and made no more than two field goals in each of the four quarters.
Ol’Aces 88 — Barcinas 20, Lizama 17, Pelisamen 16, Iguel 7, Santos 7, Libuw 6, Nakashima 4, Deleon Guerrero 4, Iginoef 3, Rangamar 3.
Ace Hardware 83 — Quan 25, Rabauliman 18, Viray 11, Evans 6, Brennan 6, Rosario 6, J. Sablan 3, Younis 2, Lauron 2.
Scoring by quarters: 19-24, 44-37, 70-56, 88-83.