Saipan Vegas and IT&E swept their respective semis opponents to arrange their title showdown in the 2019 Atkins Kroll Marianas International Basketball League.
IT&E took the first finals seat after beating MS Villagomez, 80-70, in Game 2 of their short best-of-three semis series last Sunday night at the Gilbert C. Ada Gymnasium.
Saipan Vegas wrapped up its playoff series with Caravan’s, too and joined IT&E to the finals after recording an 80-76 triumph in Game 2 later that night.
Game 1 of the championship series, which is also a best-of-three affair, will be played this Friday at the Marianas High School Gymnasium. Game 2 is set for Sunday, also at MHS, while Game 3, if necessary will take place on Nov. 19.
Saipan Vegas made sure Game 3 won’t be needed in their semis duel against Caravan’s, as the pennant champion led from start to finish and withstood the latter’s late comeback.
Coby Santos sparked Saipan Vegas’ strong start, as he fired 14 points in the first quarter to hand their team a 30-16 lead. Five other Saipan Vegas players scored in the opening frame.
Saipan Vegas kept the advantage in the ensuing quarters with Santos still on target, while Ken Viray and Josh Andrew tried to help Caravan’s stay in the game. By the end of the third canto, Saipan Vegas was on top by 9, 69-60, thanks to Santos’ 10 points in the penultimate frame. Viray and Andrew combined for 13 in the third period to keep Caravan’s finals hopes alive.
Then in the fourth, Andrew teamed up with Alex Standish in Caravan’s last bid to mount a comeback and win Game 2 to force a rubber. The two big men totaled for all, but 2 of Caravan’s 26 points in the final canto, however, their team still fell short.
Saipan Vegas kept the lead and the win behind Preston Basa’s 3-pointer and one basket apiece from Zach Diaz, Jeff Deleon Guerrero, Aiferson Atan, and Santos.
Santos led all scorers with his 33 points, while Andrew paced Caravan’s with his 21 markers.
In other results, IT&E survived a seesaw battle with MS Villagomez, as it went all out in the fourth frame to finish the series.
Down by 3 going into the final canto, 57-60, IT&E drew 8 points from Gerald Flores and 6 from Jaymark De Guzman to complete the sweep and take the first finals seat. Jack Aranda also stepped up in the fourth period after going scoreless in the first and third with his 5 markers in the pivotal quarter.
MS Villagomez collapsed in the fourth period with only Mel Manibusan making a field goal for the squad after hitting a triple. Matthew Richardson, who finished the third canto with 11 points, was held to four free throws, while Shane Deleon Guerrero’s 3 markers were also all made from the foul line.
IT&E 80—De Guzman 26, Flores 16, Aranda 12, Demapan 8, Guiab 6, Esdrelon 6, Peredo 4, Barbo 4, Devero 3, De Dios 3, Talania 2, Rabasto 2.
MS Villagomez 70—Richardson 15, Deleon Guerrero 12, King 11, Lajara 8, Dela Cruz 7, Manibusan 7, Aughenbaugh 5.
Scoring by quarters: 14-18, 35-34, 57-60, 80-70.
Saipan Vegas 80—Santos 33, Atan 9, Schmidt 8, P. Basa 6, Kabriel 5, Bondoc 5, Diaz 4, Deleon Guerrero 4, Lizama 4, Sablan 2.
Caravan’s 76—Andrew 21, Viray 19, Standish 16, Rasa 8, Factor 6, Young 4, Tenorio 2.
Scoring by quarters: 30-16, 47-38, 69-60, 80-76.