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By Michael J.A. Nauta Jr.
Post-season action in the San Miguel Basketball League – Season 5 got underway this past weekend with three divisions completing ten games. Yesterday evening, the third-seeded ACS Investors took on the sixth-seeded J-Town in the final game of the day. Both teams treated everyone in attendance with a game that came down to the wire in order to decide a winner. At the sound of the final buzzer, it was J-Town who eliminated their opponents after picking-up a 46-45 victory after Joel Oyardo converted a free throw with one tick left on the clock.
“This was one heck of a game by both teams and it could’ve gone either way,” said Oyardo. “With the game tied at 45-45 and one second left, I was given two chances at the free-throw line and I knew that I had to make something because going into overtime wasn’t the best idea.”
Despite leading for most of the game, J-Town would find themselves trailing by four (43-39) with a minute and a half left in the game and forced coach Edwin Panganiban to call a timeout. After returning to the floor, back-to-back possessions by J-Town worked in their favor as Dezdin Fikes dialed-in from long range twice to give the lead back to his team. As the clock continued to wind-down, ACS’s Raffy Sablan earned a trip to the charity stripe after a J-Town foul and equalized the game at 45-45 with 13 seconds left in the game.
J-Town held the ball looking to take the final shot of the game. With the ball in Oyardo’s hands, the feisty and quick guard found and opening to the hoop and attacked the basket. Despite his floating shot not finding the bottom of the net a foul was called that sent him to the line. After missing the first, Oyardo regrouped and managed to swish the second attempt that proved to be the game clincher.
“Our boys worked really hard all season long and we came ready to play today,” said J-Town’s Coach Panganiban. “I had all the faith and believed that Joel would convert on his free-throw.”
From the start of the game, it was no secret that both teams were ready for a hard-fought battle. Wasting no time, ACS’s Josh Sebastian drained a layup ten seconds in for the game’s first bucket. However, Ralph Baul responded quickly on the opposite end of the floor with two points of his own. The seesaw battle engaged for a few more minutes before ACS sparked a mini rally to take a 12-6 lead.
Being down early didn’t deter J-Town from staying focused as Baul and Oyardo led their team to a run of their own narrowing the gap to within one (13-12). It wasn’t until the five-minute mark when Baul and teammate A.J. Panganiban buried two-straight baskets to include a three that gave J-Town their first lead of the game at 17-16. As the first-half came to a close it was J-Town who held a slim 22-19 lead.
The entire second-half was much like the first with neither team being able to build a lead larger than six points. Putting on a display of strong defense and precision offense, both teams combined for five ties and four lead changes. However, when it mattered the most it was trips to the charity stripe that proved to be the difference. J-Town went 8-for-9 from the line, while ACS shot 6-for-10.
“Other than sticking to our game plan of keeping our opponents from entering the paint, we had to take care of the simple things like shots from the free-throw line,” said Fikes. “We couldn’t afford to waste any easy layups or opportunities given to us courtesy of fouls.”
Baul and Fikes led J-Town scoring 15 and nine points respectively. In the losing effort, ACS’s Reed Meyer led all-scorers with a game-high 18 points and teammate Sebastian accounted for 11.
With the victory, J-Town advances to the semi-finals and is scheduled to take on the Dragons next Saturday at 6pm. The Dragons earned their trip to the semis after defeating BME & Sons 55-45. Will Davis led the Dragons with 15 points, while teammate Kallel Delos Santos added 12.
Other playoff results:
- Red Horse defeated Red Music Skippers 95-54 (Open Division 1)
- Hoopnotics defeated IT&E 55-52 (Open Division 1)
- Calvo’s Insurance defeated GSM/DLX 51-47 (Open Division 1)
- Sticky Bandits defeated MVP Stars 44-36 (Open Division 1)
- COSLA defeated Skyy Vodka 56-47 (Open Division 2)
- GHC Panthers defeated 36 CES 73-40 (Masters Division)
- Jim Beam defeated YMO 63-52 (Masters Division)
- LA Painting defeated Pepsi via forfeit (Open Division 2)
UPCOMING PLAYOFF SCHEDULE:
- Game #11 – 2:15pm Red Horse vs. MVP
- Game #12 – 3:30pm Hoopnotics vs. CALVO’S
- Game #13 – 4:45pm LA Painting vs. COSLA
- Game #14 – 6:00pm Dragons vs. J-Town
- 3:30pm – GHC Panthers vs. Jim Beam (Masters Division Championship)
- 4:45pm – Winner of GM #13 vs. Winner of GM #14 (Open Division 2 Championship)
- 6:00pm – Winner of GM #11 vs. Winner of GM #12 (Open Division 1 Championship)
Red Horse (95) vs. Red Music Skippers (54)
Red Horse demolished the Red Music Skippers behind JP Cruz’ game high 30 points. Ted Tuazon of the Red Music Skippers banked in a total of 16 points for his team in the loss.
GPS Sports Calendar