Team Pogi, KFC/Taco Bell dispute crown


Team Pogi's Jeff Bahillo, seen here making a fancy layup during their playoff win over Banahas Restaurant, hit a crucial layup to lift his team to a 58-57 semis victory over Irish Spring in the DLX/DL JOS caging last Friday at the Gualo Rai Basketball Court. (Roselyn B. Monroyo)  Jeff Bahillo escaped with an uncontested layup in the closing seconds of their game against Irish Spring to lift Team Pogi to a thrilling 58-57 semis win in the 2012 DLX/DL JOS Inter-Color Basketball League last Friday night at the Gualo Rai Basketball Court.

The victory moved Team Pogi to the championship match against KFC/Taco Bell, which downed Mawati in the second semis duel, 68-62. The winner-take-all finale was scheduled to be played last night.

Bahillo’s crucial basket came after Irish Spring stole the lead, 57-56, following Art Trajano’s layup, 14 seconds remaining on the clock. Behind by a hair, Team Pogi tried to call for a quick timeout, but it was too late to inform the table officials. However, the miscommunication was a blessing in disguise for Team Pogi as it hurriedly inbounded the ball and with Irish Spring’s defense not set up yet, Bahillo found himself open at their frontcourt, several steps away from two defenders, and easily canned the go-ahead layup.

Irish Spring was left with 8 seconds to map out a winning play, but without a timeout to talk things over it was rattled by the defense of Team Pogi at the backcourt as time expired.

Bahillo paced Team Pogi in a low-scoring semis match after tallying 17 points. He nailed 7 of them in the fourth canto to keep Team Pogi in the driver’s seat. Brian Chan and Tim Sula chipped in 15 and 14, respectively.

Bernard Samson led Irish Spring with his 15 markers, but was held to only one field goal in the closely fought final period, while Trajano contributed 14, 6 of them came in the payoff canto.

The first semis tiff was a neck-and-neck battle since the start with neither team leading by more than seven points. Irish Spring was up by a deuce after the first period, 12-10, behind the 5 markers of Ron Hernandez. Tables turned at the break with Team Pogi hanging on to a 24-23 advantage before stretching the lead to four at the end of the third, 42-38. Team Pogi managed to grabbed the lead in the second and third periods after converting five treys against only one from Irish Spring.

In the second semis match, KFC/Taco Bell had a slow start, but led at the end of the three remaining quarters to eliminate Mawati.

KFC/Taco Bell fell behind after the opening canto, 18-15, as Jerome Reyes sizzled for 8 points for Mawati. Reyes was then held scoreless in the second frame, while KFC/Taco Bell leaned on its balance offense to wrestle the lead, 34-29.

KFC/Taco Bell retained the upper hand in the third, 49-42, as Ralph Francisco knocked in 9 points in that period after making only two field goals in the first half.

In the fourth frame, Mawait made repeated attempts to overhaul KFC/Taco Bell’s lead, however the latter secured the win from the 15-footline, making four free throws in the homestretch.

First Game

Team Pogi 58 – Je. Bahillo 17, Chan 14, Sula 12, Ja. Bahillo 8, Lansang 7.

Irish Spring 57 – Samson 15, Trajano 14, Hernandez 12, Fernandez 4, Garcia 4, B. Montano 2, Leong 1.

Scoring by quarters: 10-12, 24-23, 42-38, 58-57.

Second Game

KFC/Taco Bell 68 – Francisco 21, Deleon Guerrero 12, Lee 12, Maranan 9, Durant 6, Omnes 3, Tinio 2, Mendiola 1.

Mawati 62 – Reyes 13, Corotan 12, Ibanes 9, Serrano 8, Pena 4, Samonte 3, Avila 2, Tenepere 2.

Scoring by quarters: 15-18, 34-29, 49-42, 68-62.

By Roselyn Monroyo

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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