Red Rice punched the first finals ticket in the 2015 Blue Haus/IT&E Inter-Color Basketball League following a 91-77 victory over Pasion De Amor last night at the Navy Hill Basketball Court.
Red Rice took a double-digit winning margin and marched into this Saturday’s winner-take-all finale, thanks to Darwin Barbo’s crucial baskets in the fourth quarter and Pasion De Amor’s collapse in the last 4:03 of the match.
Pasion De Amor was very much in the game down by 3, 73-76, going into the last four minutes of the semis game and had a chance to move closer, but Bart Demapan babied a finger roll. Pasion De Amor paid dearly for that sorry miss, as momentum swung back to Red Rice, which launched a short 7-0 run to regain the twin-digit spread, 83-73.
Barbo anchored the run, as he knocked in a fastbreak layup after Demapan’s miss and hit another basket in the paint following teammate Dan Chan’s lucky bounce on his 3-point attempt. An Elmer Esdrelon layup momentarily stopped the bleeding for Pasion De Amor, but Red Rice answered with an 8-2 windup to clinch the victory. Barbo nailed another point-blanked shot in the finish, while Red Rice scored its last 6 points off Pasion De Amor’s successive errors in the closing minutes of the semis game. Mike Cabanas picked Demapan’s pocket off an inbound pass from Esdrelon and made two free throws off the latter’s foul, while Angelo Fernando put the icing on the cake, drilling two uncontested layups from two more miscues by Pasion De Amor.
Fernando finished with 28 points to back up Barbo, who sizzled for 34 markers. Barbo canned 24 of his total output in the second half to foil Pasion De Amor’s repeated comeback bids.
Pasion De Amor moved within 2, 65-67, after Esdrelon opened the fourth with a long jumper. However, Barbo countered with 8 straight points against the triple of Chris Arreza to keep Red Rice safe distance, 76-70. Three consecutive free throws from Esdrelon trimmed the deficit to 3, however that was the closest Pasion De Amor could get, as it folded up in the end with its team captain and Demapan missing several easy shots.
Esdrelon registered 28 points to lead Pasion De Amor, while Demapan logged 23, but was held to two field goals in the fourth. Arreza also had double figures with 11, while Rey Pestillos was the missing link on Pasion De Amor’s offense, tallying only 8.
Meanwhile, Red Rice will face in the finals the winner between the Makalaro Lang and Mamba semis game. The last semis pairing will be scheduled this week after it was called off last Saturday due to Typhoon Champi.
Red Rice 91 – Barbo 34, Fernando 28, Chan 9, Cabanas 8, Saplan 6, Achas 4, Marilla 2.
Pasion De Amor 77 – Esdrelon 28, Demapan 23, C. Arreza 11, Pestillos 8, Conti 7.
Scoring by quarters: 23-14, 47-37, 67-63, 91-77.