Pacific Islands Club Saipan stiff-armed Kensington Hotel’s comeback attempt to pull off an 80-77 victory in the curtain-raiser in the 2018 IT&E Emon Masonic Lodge No. 179 Mixed Masters Brotherhood Basketball League last Monday at the Koblerville Gymnasium.
PIC Saipan drew crucial baskets from Butch Sublemente in the fourth quarter and knocked in important free throws to withstand Kensington’s rally.
Kensington, which fell behind by double digits in the first half on several occasions, claimed the lead for the first time, 73-72, when it outgunned PIC Saipan, 15-6, in a seven-minute stretch. Jun Alipio nailed the go-ahead basket with his fastbreak layup, while Jomac Manzano sparked the rally with his 8 straight points. However, Kensington failed to hang on to the lead, as it was held to two field goals the rest of the way and missed several free throws.
PIC Saipan, on the other hand, got two baskets from Sublemente, two free throws from James Abuy, and one each from Sean Rabasto and Paulo Rafols in the closing minutes to secure the win.
Before Kensington’s fightback, PIC enjoyed the biggest lead (17) in the game, 41-24, with still six minutes left in the first half, as Abuy drilled 15 points in the first quarter. Sean Rabasto was also on target early, making a couple of outside shots, including a give-and-go 3-pointer that beat the first period buzzer.
With Kensington in trouble, Alipio stepped up, showcasing his versatility on the offensive end, as he muscled his way to the basket and hit long-range jumpers. He finished the first half with 12 points and brought Kensington to within 5, 42-47.
When action resumed in the third period, PIC reclaimed the double-digit lead after Rabasto’s 3-pointer, 62-51. Sublemente also came alive in the third quarter, scoring 6 points in that period after being held to just 2 in the first half to keep PIC on top. However, PIC’s lead went down to 8 at the end of the third, 66-58, as Alipio and Arellano registered 6 points each, helping Kensington stay in the game before falling short in the final canto.
Abuy led PIC with his 24 points, while Rafols, Rabasto, and Sublemente also finished in double digits, scoring 18, 14, and 13 respectively, to give their team a league-leading 6-1 record.
Alipio had 24 points, too, while Arellano battled through leg cramps to record 17 markers. Manzano and Webster Guntar combined for 16 markers for Kensington, which dropped to a 4-2 mark.
PIC 80 — Abuy 24, Rafols 18, Rabasto 14, Sublemente 13, Castro 6, Norita 4.
Kensington 77 — Alipio 24, Arellano 17, Manzano 8, Guntar 8, Marcelo 6, Singca 6, Keith 4, Sharry 2, Pineda 2.
Scoring by quarters: 29-19, 47-42, 66-58, 80-77.