QQ, Ashley’s enter semifinals


Ashley's Dennis Cortez, left, goes up for a shot against Loving Hands' Ziddy Johanes during the third quarter of their playoff game in the Blue Haus caging last Saturday at the Garapan Basketball Court. (Roselyn B. Monroyo)  QQ Rent A Car survived Wanted Sponsor’s rally in the fourth quarter to eke out a 92-89 playoff win and advance to the semifinals of the 2012 Blue Haus Invitational League last Saturday night at the Garapan Basketball Court.

QQ lost a 10-point lead, 87-77, going into the final 2:02 of the game, before Kermit Concepcion and Badong Camacho’s hit crucial baskets to save the win and eliminate Wanted Sponsor.

Two straight three-point plays brought Wanted Sponsor back in the game. Kae Bernardo made an and-1 play off a fastbreak basket, 80-87, and they regained possession off a steal in QQ’s inbound play, leading to a Banjo Basila’s underneath shot plus a foul.

Ahead by only four, 87-83, after Basila completed the three three-point play, Elgene Mangali rushed things for QQ and lost the ball on his way to the basket. Dave Sablan then picked up the loose ball, but babied a fastbreak layup. Fortunately for Wanted Sponsor, Lawrence Rollon was there for the trailer and drew a foul on his way for the offensive board and split his charities, cutting the lead to three, 84-87.

QQ’s George Cruz was fouled in the ensuing play and missed both charities, while Wanted Sponsor tied the game, 87-all, off Jun Pantaleon’s triple, 87-87, 1:28 left on the clock. Wanted Sponsor gave up another foul and Concepcion made a split for a slim 88-87 advantage, but he later canned a short jumper for 90-87 cushion after QQ regained possession with Marlon Sison stealing the leather from Kae Bernando.

Wanted Sponsor committed another error when Sablan’s feed to Bernardo to the left wing bounced off the latter’s hands and went out to the baseline. However QQ also lost the leather on the other end with Sablan picking it up and this time making sure he nailed the easy basket. Wanted Sponsor moved within one anew, 89-90, with 30 seconds left on the clock.

However, Sison and Camacho teamed up for QQ in the next play to give their team more breathing room. Sison, who hit four straight triples in the fourth period to give QQ a double-digit lead, drove to the basket and drew the defense of Wanted Sponsor players first before dishing the ball out to Camacho to the right wing for a basket and a foul. Camacho missed the bonus and there was a scramble for the loose ball with Sison touching the leather last before it rolled out to the baseline.

Wanted Sponsor was left with 10 seconds to attempt for a game-tying trey, but could not convert, as Basila and Bernardo were well covered and the former was forced to make a cross court pass to the right key to Sablan. Sablan’s heave was too strong and that has been his story in the second half, as he was held to two free throws and a field goal in the third and missed his first seven shots in the fourth canto.

Sison led QQ’s win with 22 points, 18 of them coming from downtown, while Camacho added 17.

In the second game, Ashley’s downed Loving Hands Day Care, 83-72.

Ashley’s won by 11 points, but led by as much as 26 in the third period, starting its breakaway midway in the second canto.

The match was tied last at 31-all before Ashley’s launched an 11-2 rally en route to a 53-40 halftime advantage. In the second half, Ashley’s padded the lead behind the hot shooting of Jack Lizama, who outscored the entire Loving Hands crew, 12-8.

Lizama and other Ashley’s starters stayed on the bench in the fourth canto, as they were comfortably ahead, 73-48.

Ashley and QQ will now wait for the two other semifinalists. DLX and the Hip Hop Thunder were scheduled to play last night for the third semis ticket, while NVM and Mobil battled for the fourth semis spot. In the semis, the four qualifiers will draw lots for the pairing.

First Game

QQ Rent A Car 92 – Sison 21, Camacho 17, Mangali 13, Faisao 12, Cruz 8, Acosta 6, Paraiso 6, Sablan 3, Concepcion 3.

Wanted Sponsor 89
– Sablan 21, Bernardo 13, Yabut 12, Basila 10, Pantaleon 9, Rollon 5, Capalad 4, Cadag 3, Diyco 3.

Scoring by quarters: 24-16, 47-41, 69-61, 92-89.

Second Game

Ashley’s 83 – Abuel 19, Lizama 18, Inos 13, Cortez 9, Mungcal 9, Mendoza 9, Usi 5, Norita 4.

Loving Hands Day Care 72 – Lerio 22, Gabaldon 10, Barrios 8, Abuy 8, Morales 7, B. Aquino 4, Pangilinan 3, G. Aquino 2, Johanes 2.

Scoring by quarters: 23-24, 53-40, 73-48, 83-72.

By Roselyn Monroyo

Roselyn Monroyo | Reporter
Roselyn Monroyo is the sports reporter of Saipan Tribune. She has been covering sports competitions for more than two decades. She is a basketball fan and learned to write baseball and football stories when she came to Saipan in 2005.

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