The Ol’Aces caught the last bus to the semifinals of the 2014 Tan Holdings Basketball Classic after outclassing Kagman Risers, 59-57, in the final elimination round game Tuesday night at the Gillette Multipurpose Gymnasium.
The Ol’Aces finished the single round elimination with a 4-3 record to rank fourth behind Rollers 1 (6-1), Dream Team (6-1), and Sonics (5-2),. Kagman ended up in fifth place with its 3-4 record, joining Rollers 2 (3-4), Sun Palace (1-6), and Rollers 3 (0-7) to the exit door.
Tristan Montes saved the Ol’Aces bid in the eight-team tournament after scoring a game-high 28 points in the crucial match. Montes was at the forefront of the Ol’Aces offense right at the opening buzzer and also hit clutch baskets in the homestretch to thwart Kagman’s repeated comeback bids.
The Marianas High School standout drilled 18 points in the first half, lifting the Ol’Aces to a 28-26 advantage. The game remained close in the second half, but the Ol’Aces hung on tight to the lead with Kagman failing to stop Montes. The lefty forward drilled 7 of the Ol’Aces last 9 points, including back-to-back baskets in the closing minutes to keep the team’s safe distance against Kagman.
Montes also drew some help from Adrian De Luna, who knocked in all his 8 markers in the second half, while Evan Miller and Nakashima Nakashima contributed 6 apiece.
Jason Lampkin paced Kagman with his 13 points, while Jesse Santos and Wayne Li chipped in 11 and 10, respectively.
Meanwhile, the Ol’Aces challenge the top-ranked Rollers 1 today at 7pm for the first semis game in the boys U19 division, while Dream Team will take on the Sonics in the other Final Four pairing tomorrow.
Though Rollers 1 and Dream Team finished the elimination round with similar 6-1 records, the former got the top seeding with its higher quotient, 1.44-1.18. League officials, based on the tournament ground rules, tallied the points of Rollers 1 and Dream Team in seven games and divided them to the points they allowed to their opponents to determine the winner of the tiebreak.
Right before the Rollers 1-Ol’Aces semis collision at 5:30pm, the top-ranked and unbeaten Armatech faces Shirley’s Coffee Shop for the first finals berth in the women’s division. Fiesta Resort & Spa Saipan and IT&E will square off in the other semis tiff tomorrow also at 5:30pm.
The championship games will be played this Saturday with the women’s division title match taking place first at 6pm and the boys U19 at 7:30pm. Consolation games are also slated this Saturday at 4pm (women’s) and 5pm (boys U19).
Ol’Aces 59–Montes 28, De Luna 8, Nakashima 6, Bucayo 6, Leonardo Cristobal 3, Castillo 2, Ermitanio 2.
Kagman 57–Lampkin 13, Je. Santos 11, Li 10, Yu 7, Palino 6, Prado 4, Jo. Santos 4.
Scoring by halves: 28-26, 59-57.