Shirley’s keeps playoff hopes alive

Shirley’s Coffee Shop’s Duncan Laxa, left, escapes with a fastbreak layup, while POI Aviation’s Jesse Santos looks on during the second half of their game in the 2017 Tan Holdings Inter-Company Basketball League late last month at the Gillette Multipurpose Gymnasium. (Roselyn B. Monroyo)

Shirley’s Coffee Shop boosted its playoff chances heading into the closing stage of the elimination round in the 2017 Tan Holdings Inter-Company Basketball League.

Shirley’s improved to a 3-4 record following a 77-60 victory over POI Aviation last Jan. 26 at the Gillette Multipurpose Gymnasium. With the win, Shirley’s moved up to the No. 4 spot in the team standings, tying POI.

Only the Top 4 teams will advance to the playoffs and Fiesta Resort & Spa Saipan (7-0) and Kanoa Resort (5-3) have already secured two of the tickets to the next round, leaving Saipan Tribune (4-3), Shirley’s, and POI to battle for the two remaining berths.

John Jugos and Duncan Laxa teamed up in towing Shirley’s to its third victory as they combined for more than half of the squad’s total production. Jugos exploded for 29 points, while Laxa added 26. Junar Guiab was the third Shirley’s player to score in twin digits with his 12 markers.

Shirley’s was on target from beyond the arc, knocking in nine triples to ease past POI, which dropped four of its last five games after having a 2-0 start. Jesse Santos led POI with his 14 markers.

Meanwhile, Fiesta Resort won anew the duel between last year’s finalists after downing defending champion Kanoa Resort in the curtain-raiser, 55-49.

Fiesta withstood Kanoa Resort’s comeback bid in the second half, as the former held the latter’s gunner, Douglas Schmidt, to two field goals at the halfway mark of that period. Before slowing down, Schmidt scored 12 points—8 straight to end the first half—at the break and drilled 5 of Kanoa Resort’s first 7 markers in the second frame.

While Schmidt was a bit quiet in the latter part of the second half, Fiesta Resort’s Lerio Pagarao put on a show in the final period, firing 16 straight points. Pagarao had only 2 markers in the first half, which ended with Fiesta ahead by double figures, 34-24, thanks to the 12 points of Elmer Esdrelon, who made all his baskets from downtown.

Esdrelon was then shut down in the second half, leaving Pagarao to carry the cudgels for Fiesta and foil Kanoa Resort’s comeback bid.

In other results, Saipan Tribune defeated Lower Base in the third game, 55-49, to climb to third place in the team standings.

Young guns Hark Galarion and Lester Lapuz delivered for Saipan Tribune with the former logging a game-high 20 points and the latter chipping in 17. Matthew Ong also finished in twin digits with his 11 markers, as he joined forces with Galarion and Lapuz in giving Saipan Tribune a 32-25 halftime advantage.

Saipan Tribune then kept the driver’s seat in the second half behind the strong finish of Lapuz, who recorded 13 points in that period and scored 7 of the squad’s last 10 markers.

Saipan Tribune will shoot for win No. 5 that would further boost its playoff chances when it takes on Fiesta tomorrow at 7pm. In the first game at 6pm, POI will face Lower Base, while in the third match at 8pm, it will be Shirley’s against Kanoa Resort.

First Game
Fiesta Resort 55 — Pagarao 18, Esdrelon 12, Nonato 7, Arreza 4, Ngirarois 4, Sedillo 4, Quizon 4, Francisco 2.
Kanoa Resort 49 — Schmidt 21, Pablo 17, Francisco 4, Joab 3, Encarnacion 2, Bustillo 2.
Scoring by halves: 34-24, 55-49.

Second Game
Shirley’s 77 — Jugos 29, Laxa 26, Guiab 14, Alonzo 4, Palma 4.
POI 60 — Santos 14, Yu 12, Kaipat 9, Nakashima 7, Dee 4, Deleon Guerrero 3, Guevarra 3, Mendiola 2, Bait 2, Delos Santos 2.
Scoring by halves: 37-30, 77-60.

Third Game
Saipan Tribune 55 — Galarion 20, Lapuz 17, M. Ong 11, Angeles 4, De La Torre 3.
Lower Base 49 — Riungel 13, Kenty 12, Echavez 7, Jinang 7, Fujihira 6, W. Benavente 4.
Scoring by halves: 32-25, 55-49.

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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