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PFC ISLANDERS TAKE GAME 3 OVER SONS, ADVANCE TO ALUMNI FINALS

In a nail-biting matchup that was decided in overtime, the PFC Islanders (JFK) held on to defeat the Paradise Phoenix Sons (FD) 64-62 in Game 3 of the Islandwide Alumni Open Division playoffs. The win secures the Islanders spot in the finals on Sunday where they will face the the Elite Phoenix Sons in Game 1.

By Brandon Kinsella

In a nail-biting matchup that was decided in overtime, the PFC Islanders (JFK) held on to defeat the Paradise Phoenix Sons (FD) 64-62 in Game 3 of the Open Division playoffs. The win secures the Islanders spot in the finals on Sunday where they will face the the Elite Phoenix Sons in Game 1.

With only four minutes left to play in the ballgame, it looked like JFK was going to secure a spot in the Championship Game with ease as PFC’s Mervin Martin converted on a layup which would put his team up by 13 at 54-41. Despite the big play, the Phoenix Sons refused to give up, clawing their way back into the ballgame and forcing overtime.

A crucial 3-pointer by FD’s Julius Yu would be the fuel to ignite the Phoenix Sons comeback opportunity. Following Yu’s three pointer, the Sons played great defense forcing a turnover, and FD’s Earvin Jose converted on a layup in transition cutting the deficit to six points at 54-48. The Islanders then called a timeout to try and stop the Sons momentum.

All night long, the Islanders faced foul trouble which would be instrumental to the Sons comeback attempt.

With 2:34 left to play, PFC’s JP Cruz converted on a difficult layup despite being heavily contested. This would put the Islanders back up by eight at 56-48. Following JP’s big shot, FD’s Seve Susuico answered with an and-one shot in the paint, converting the free throw and shrinking the deficit to five.

FD’s Jon Ilao would come up clutch in the game’s final minutes, sinking a fadeaway two-pointer cutting the deficit to just three points. Susuico collected another huge board following a free throw miss by the Islanders. And again, Ilao found himself with another critical opportunity, hitting a crucial and-one layup and converting the free throw to tie the game at 56-56.

With the game tied and the stakes high, the Sons fouled one of PFC’s best shooters in Billy Belger, sending him to the charity stripe. Belger converted on both free throws giving his team a two-point lead. Following Belger’s key free throws, FD had no other choice but to call a timeout with only 14 seconds left to play. Ilao, who had been instrumental in his team’s comeback would again find himself with an opportunity to tie the ballgame after being fouled and sent to the line. Ilao converted on both free throws tying the game at 56 apiece, forcing overtime.

Overtime

The defending champs immediately responded to the Sons comeback on the first possession of overtime, as Player of the Belger knocked down a deep three-pointer retaking the lead. The Son’s only lead of the game would come after Jude Martinez converted on a two-point layup. PFC would answer right away as Mervin Martin sinked a three-pointer giving his team a 64-62 lead. FD had one more opportunity to tie the game with the final possession of the game and looked to Earvin Jose to hit a three pointer. But air tight defense by the Islanders caused a miss as the final buzzer sounded.

Belger finished with 14 points and earned player of the game alongside teammate JP Cruz, who finished with 16. Belger explained what returning to the championship game means to him and his team.

“Being able to come back to the championship game really means a lot. Last season we were able to go undefeated and win the championship, and we want to be able to continue that success and win another title.” Belger also gave props to the Sons for a tough fought game.

The PFC Islanders have an opportunity to become back to back champions as they face the Guam Elite Friars in a championship rematch this Sunday. Belger explained what fans can expect to see in the rematch:

“It’s going to be physically intense, high level competition. Both teams are going to bring their A-game and it’s just going to be a great game.”

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