Tan Holdings survived a scare from Joeten to win the title deciding Game 3, 86-80, of their championship showdown in the 2nd JP World Corp. Customer Appreciation Basketball League last Friday night at the Gillette Multipurpose Gymnasium.
Tan Holdings squandered an 18-point lead in the third quarter and had to ride on the steady hands of Elmer Esdrelon from the foul line and R.J. Nonato’s clutch baskets in the homestretch to finally wrap up the short series and endure a gallant stand from Joeten.
Esdrelon knocked in six free throws in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter, while Nonato hit two field goals with his first one dousing cold water to Joeten’s fiery run and the second moving Tan Holdings closer to the Promised Land.
Joeten, who once stared a 40-58 deficit midway in the third canto, managed to grab the upper hand twice in the fourth, 70-69, and 73-72.
A short jumper from Nonato brought the lead back to Tan Holdings, 74-73, 2:25 left on the clock, and a layup from Esdrelon made it a 76-73 advantage, entering the final two minutes of the match.
Joeten sued for time, but failed to produce a basket. It then got another chance when Sid Quan picked Matt Duenas’ pocket near midcourt and sprinted to their frontcourt, however the former missed the easy layup that could have cut the deficit to one. Earlier in the fourth, Quan, Dixon Kwon, and Alex Lauron muffed several point-blanked shots that could have changed Joeten’s fortunes.
After Quan’s sorry miss, Esdrelon was fouled on his way to the basket and had a split. Another Joeten missed on the other end returned possession to Tan Holdings and Nonato rose to the occasion with an and-1 basket off a spin move from the right baseline for their 80-73 lead, down to the last 42.7 seconds of the match.
Quan had a split and Lauron nailed back-to-back layups, hoping to anchor Joeten’s final push, but Tan Holdings kept its safe distance as its finals foe decided to commit preemptive fouls to stop the clock. Esdrelon drilled those important free throws, going 5-for-6 in his last three trips from the stripe, while Jarett Matsutaro added one charity. Joeten also got its last 2 markers from the foul line off Ferdie Tobias’ 2-for-3 performance from the charity lane to peg the final score.
Nonato top-scored in Tan Holdings’ title-clinching win with his 25 points, while Esdrelon and Duenas contributed 23 and 21, respectively. Lauron had 24 for Joeten, while Kwon still finished with 22 despite being hounded all night by Tan Holdings defenders.
Duenas, who fouled out in the third quarter of their Game 2 loss, made his presence felt early in Game 3, scoring 9 points to lift Tan Holdings to a 22-19 lead after the first canto. Tan Holdings’ advantage then ballooned to as much as 12 in the first half, 32-20, after Esdrelon’s triple capped a 10-1 scoring run in the first five minutes of the second period.
However, Joeten battled back, moving within one at the break, 38-39, as it finished the last five minutes of the first half with an 18-6 spurt behind the combined 12 points of Kwon and Athan Taisague.
After slowing down late in the second quarter, Tan Holdings opened the third with a 19-2 run to established the biggest lead in Game 3. Duenas led the breakaway, firing 10 points, while Nonato added 7.
However, Joeten refused to give up and threatened Tan Holdings in the fourth quarter before running out of guns in the end.
Tan Holdings 86—Nonato 25, Esdrelon 23, Duenas 21, Matsutaro 9, Pablo 6, Rivera 2.
Joeten 80—Lauron 24, Kwon 22, Quan 12, Taisague 11, Sambile 4, Tobias 5, Benghit 2.
This article was originally authored by Roselyn Monroyo of the Saipan Tribune and published on January 25, 2016. All rights, recognition and acknowledgment belong to the author and the Saipan Tribune.