LEPRECHAUNS x TUNESQUAD hoops league officially begins playoffs

Jarren Japitana of team ODM x Stella (LEPRECHAUNS x TUNESQUAD Facebook page)

By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña

One of the fast-emerging basketball leagues in Iloilo City just kicked off its highly-anticipated post-season tournament last May 8, 2023, held at the Green Meadows basketball gym.

After two months of an action-packed elimination round, the LEPRECHAUNS x TUNESQUAD basketball club officially proceeded with its quarterfinal round as 16 teams remain that will vie for the ultimate chip in the first conference of the 2023 season.

Two games headlined the start of the playoffs as top seeds team HOG and team ODM x Stella clinched the first quarterfinal wins to advance to the next round of their bracket.

During the first scheduled game, the no.1 seeded team HOG posted a wire-to-wire victory against team El Marino, 92-75.

Main gunner Mark Hermano led the way for team HOG after putting up another impressive stat line of 32 points, eight rebounds, and four assists.

Team El Marino was still hanging around in the first few sets as their efficient perimeter shooting was able to keep them within striking distance to avoid a double-digit deficit swelling.

However, in the last two sets, team HOG began to roll and just dominated their way inside the paint and outside the three-point territory.

For the last game of the quarterfinal tip-off, team ODM x Stella pulled off a cardiac victory over team Ford, 94-91.

It was a highly-competitive back-and-forth affair as ODM x Stella struck first after quickly finding their shooting rhythm, their bread and butter the entire tournament while also keeping up with the taller front court of team Ford to gain defensive rebounds.

Team Ford hit back in the next set after muscling their way inside the paint while also locking-up team ODM x Stella’s shooting field, the thing they focused more on in order to get back into the ball game.

However, as the middle sets approached, team ODM x Stella was able to pull away with a 15-point lead, thanks to their waxing hot three-point shooting led by the duo of Inno Miclat and Rush Rubin.

Just when team ODM x Stella thought they could steamroll their way in the last set, team Ford salvaged a gutsy comeback to trim their deficit to just three points in the last minute of the game.

Team ODM x Stella then got a sigh of relief after back-to-back defensive stops while also converting on clutch baskets led by Reygie Caniban to officially knockout team Ford out of playoff contention.

Jarren Japitana also came up big for team ODM x Stella as he battled his way against the huge team Ford centers to clinch best player of the game honors with 20 points, seven rebounds, and five assists.