Shirley’s Coffee Shop and Blue Eagle arranged their title showdown in the Open Division of the United Filipino Organization IT&E 2019 Basketball League after beating their respective semifinals opponents last Saturday at the Gilbert C. Ada Gymnasium.
Shirley’s punched the first finals ticket following an 82-65 triumph over Islander Rent A Car, while Blue Eagle also posted a double-digit winning margin versus The Game, 76-60, in the other semis pairing last weekend. Blue Eagle and Shirley’s will dispute the championship this Sunday at 7pm after the 5:30pm finals match in the Masters Division.
Matt Duenas led Shirley’s entry into the winner-take-all finale after scoring 25 points against the No. 2 seed Islander. He also drew enough support from his teammates with Gerald Flores, Ed Diaz, and Jack Aranda, chipping in 16, 15, and 14 points respectively. Dennis Mendiola missed scoring in double figures, as he added only 7 markers, but he controlled the boards, paving the way for several easy fastbreak baskets for the No. 3 seed Shirley’s, while his presence in the paint also intimidated Islander players.
Duenas anchored Shirley’s breakaway in the second quarter, as he scored 13 points in that period, including 10 in the team’s 18-4 windup. Before the Shirley’s rally, the match was once tied at 31-all. Shirley’s ended up finishing the first 20 minutes of play with a 49-35 lead, as Islander was held to a pair of free throws and one field goal (all from Mac Mintac) in the final five minutes of the second canto.
Down, but definitely not out, Islander mounted a comeback in the third period, as it went on a 10-0 scoring run in the first four minutes and change of that quarter, highlighted by Ken Viray’s completed 4-point play. Mintac nearly made it a one-possession game, when he escaped past his defenders, but he babied an open shot and missed.
Shirley’s got the ball and Duenas, a firefighter by profession, drilled a step-back jumper to douse cold water into Islander’s fiery run.
Duenas’ shot then sparked Shirley’s own run, as the team brought its lead back into twin digits after the third period, 63-50. Aranda and Diaz scored 5 points each in that spurt in the closing half of the third frame.
In the fourth quarter, Shirley’s padded its lead and this time, Islander failed to make a comeback, as coach Dennis Cortez could not find the right combination on the floor to give their team the final push.
Meanwhile, in the other semis tiff, the No. 1 seed Blue Eagle took control of its match versus No. 4 The Game in the second quarter and never looked back to join Shirley’s in the finals this weekend.
Douglas Schmidt delivered 8 of his 19 points in the second quarter to turn an 18-13 advantage to a 41-27 lead halftime lead. Preston Basa contributed 5 markers, while Jack Lizama and Bart Demapan chipped in 4 points apiece in the pivotal period.
Gino Libuw and Jaymark De Guzman also helped out in Blue Eagle’s cause, as they fired 7 and 6 points, respectively, in the third period to keep the team’s double-digit spread, 58-42.
The Game never managed to slice the deficit to single digit, as only Arnold Arellano played consistent offense for the losing squad.
Shirley’s 82—Duenas 25, Flores 16, Diaz 15, Aranda 14, Mendiola 7, Sablan 4, Jugos 1.
Islander 65—Viray 18, Mintac 14, Tekopua 10, Quan 5, Sanguyo 5, Mangali 5, Standish 4, Torres 2, Andrew 2, Pastrana 1.
Scoring by quarters: 20-20, 49-35, 63-50, 82-65.
Blue Eagle 76—Schmidt 19, Lizama 10, Santos 8, Demapan 8, De Guzman 7, Libuw 6, Manolo 6, Barbo 5, Basa 5, Rasa 2.
The Game 60—Arellano 20, Dayao 10, Sablan 6, Fidelino 5, Factor 5, Javier 4, Torregoza 3.
Scoring by quarters: 18-13, 41-27, 58-42, 76-60.