The Ol’Aces are a win away from claiming the men’s division championship in the 2018 MIBF Island-wide Basketball League after rallying past the 670 Sonics, 84-83, in Game 1 of their short title series last Friday night at the Gilbert C. Ada Gymnasium.
The Ol’Aces overhauled a 7-point deficit late in the game to steal the finals opener from the 670 Sonics, which committed turnovers in the homestretch to hand the victory to the pennant champions.
The last of those costly booboos came with a little over 10 seconds remaining in the match and the Ol’Aces were ahead by only 3, 83-80, after Douglas Schmidt went 2-for-2 from the foul line. After Schmidt’s second free throw conversion, the 670 Sonic went for a quick inbound, as neither team had timeouts left. However, the Ol’Aces pressured Jun Javier at the baseline and the 670 Sonics center opted for a long pass that landed at their frontcourt, but to the wrong hands—Preston Basa’s.
Basa was later fouled even before he crossed midcourt, as the 670 Sonics wanted to stop the clock, which read at 11.3 seconds. Basa went to the 15-foot line and missed his first attempt before making the second one, which eventually served as insurance for the Ol’Aces, as the 670 Sonics’ Jun Fidelino managed to hit a step back triple at the buzzer against the former.
It was a sorry loss for the 670 Sonics, which seemed headed for a Game 1 victory when it took a 78-71 advantage after Matt Duenas knocked in a baseline jumper, down to the last 3:34 of the match.
However, the Ol’Aces launched an 8-0 run, which was made possible by their trademark backcourt pressure defense, to grab the lead 79-78, down to the last 2:19 of the game. Dean Blake, Kobe Santos, and Schmidt contributed one basket each in that rally, while Marvin Rabauliman gave the Ol’Aces the go-ahead after getting a feed from Basa at the baseline. Rabauliman drilled another point-blank shot to stretch their lead to 3, 81-78, with less than a minute left in the match.
A banked shot from Duenas ended the 670 Sonics’ more than two minutes silence and kept the team in the game.However, they committed a couple of turnovers in the ensuing plays, allowing the Ol’Aces to cling to the one-point lead, 81-80, 20.9 seconds left on the clock.
The Ol’Aces gained more breathing room, 83-80, when Schmidt intercepted a bounced pass from Sean Rabasto intended for Javier off a pick and roll play and was fouled on his way to their frontcourt. Schmidt canned the two crucial charities and the Ol’Aces went on to complete the come-from-behind victory.
Rabauliman top-scored for the Ol’Aces with his 18 points—9 came in the fourth quarter. Blake, Santos, Basa, and Schmidt also finished in twin digits with 17, 14, 12, and 10, respectively. Duenas had 24 markers for the 670 Sonics before getting fouled out in the closing seconds of Game 1, while J.R. Ngeskebei was the only other double-digit scorer for the losing squad with his 16.
With the defeat, the 670 Sonics must win in tonight’s Game 2 to force the deciding Game 3, which, if needed, will be played this Wednesday.
Ol’Aces 84—Rabauliman 18, Blake 17, Santos 14, Basa 12, Schmidt 10, Pelisamen 9, Atan 2, Siech 2.
670 Sonics 83— M. Duenas 24, Ngeskebei 16, Aranda 9, Rabasto 7, Rafols 6, Abobo 6, Ordona 4, E. Duenas 4, Fidelino 4, Tengco 3.
Scoring by quarters: 16-18, 37-46, 59-62, 84-83.