SSFM/New Garapan Market kept its perfect record and earned the solo lead in the 2015 DLX Invitational Basketball League following an 86-73 victory over Jake’s Catering last Monday night at the Gualo Rai Basketball Court.
Djay Ong lifted SSFM/New Garapan Market in the battle of the two unbeaten teams in the eight-squad league, scoring a game-high 22 points. The Marianas High School standout hit baskets in succession late in the third to give SSFM/New Garapan Market the momentum and then anchored the team’s strong start in the fourth to threaten a breakaway en route to their fifth win in as many games.
Jake’s Catering, which routed Island Manpower last Saturday, 84-60, was 4-0 prior to meeting SSFM/New Garapan Market, which also booked its fourth win last weekend after a similar easy victory against Team Compound, 83-69.
SSFM/New Garapan Market made it five in a row with Ong leading a short 8-0 run in opening minutes of the fourth period, turning a shaky 2-point advantage to a double-digit spread, 69-59. Ong started the fourth with back-to-back baskets and hit another one after Sean Rabasto’s breakaway layup. Ong found himself open for those short jumpers and undergoal stab, as SSFM/New Garapan Market moved the ball well and made extra passes.
Earlier in the third period, Ong also anchored a short rally, as he nailed three straight baskets in an 8-0 spree that allowed SSFM/New Garapan Market to take a 57-50 lead. Jake’s Catering, behind Manolo Manalo and Ron Gamboa’s baskets, moved within 2 points at the end of the third canto as it held SSFM/New Garapan Market to a field goal and a free throw in the remaining two minutes of that quarter.
However, Jake’s Catering played flat in the early goings of the fourth, while SSFM/New Garapan Market leaned on Ong and Rabasto to pad their lead to as much as 16. Ong scored 8 of the team’s first 14 points, while Rabasto had 6. The SSFM/New Garapan Market guard also helped set-up Ong for those shots in the paint. Ong went on to drill 12 of his total points in the final canto.
With Ong and company improving to a 5-0 record, they boosted their chances for the outright semis berth. The Top 2 teams in the round-robin tournament will automatically move into the semis, while the No. 3 to 6 finishers will battle for the remaining two Final Four berths and the bottom two will be eliminated.
SSFM 86 – Ong 22, Bisana 17, M. Espinosa 12, Velasco 12, Rabasto 10, J. Espinosa 9, Eleasar 2.
Jake’s Catering 73– Manalo 15, Gamboa 14, Rivera 14, Capalad 12, Aguon 10, Dayrit 6, Montano 2.
Scoring by quarters: 18-10, 32-39, 61-59, 86-73.