Karma Lounge rides second half surge to escape past DBTI in season opener

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By John Mark Herrera – Published February 4, 2020

The KOTC Q1 2020 Inter Pick-Up League kicked off with a bang as two-time Intermediate Division champions DBTI clashed with league newbie Karma Lounge, where the latter managed to scrap a forgettable first half and hand DBTI a narrow defeat, 83-80.

The champs made quite an impressive run in the early going of the ballgame led by their finals MVP from their recent triumphant campaign, Brix Estabillo. The unflappable guard dissected the towering opposition and struck key baskets to lead DBTI up to a 19-15 tally after one. The Bosconians would continue their work and stretch their advantage midway through the second quarter, where they led 33-21.

But not to be outdone, Karma Lounge would slowly cut the deficit down to a more manageable margin in the final minutes of the first half. They might be donning a new name, but this squad is led by a household name in former UE slotman, Mark Fampulme. The former Red Warrior stabilized their offense and went to work on defense together with Aljon Ramos to ignite a 16-7 blast to end the first 20 minutes of play, only trailing by three, 37-40.

Come third quarter, DBTI went back and forth against a now more comfortable Karma Lounge, who got their gears going after a slow start. But unfazed by the storm, the Bosconians went to their ever reliable transition attack, to push their lead back up to double figures (61-50) midway through the third chapter. DBTI would weather a quarter-ending storm to keep a 61-55 gap heading to the payoff period.

The see-saw battle would spill into the final minutes of the fourth quarter, where Karma Lounge kept themselves within striking distance as DBTI was hanging on to a 78-73 lead. With under two minutes left, Ramos sparked a 6-0 run to give their team their first taste of the lead at 79-78, since leading 6-4 in the opening quarter.

Missed opportunities off of multiple offensive plays would send DBTI to a pressure-packed endgame, where Fampulme and Ramos would collect three makes from the charity stripe to further add to their advantage, 82-78, with 7.5 ticks on the game clock. Miro Manere would score a bucket off a timeout, but Karma Lounge would escape DBTI's trap defense to seal their first ever win in the tournament.

Brix Estabillo finished with a double-double of 21 points and 11 assists, Miro Manere had 13 points and seven boards, Aaron Olo grabbed 11 boards and nabbed 11 markers, while Ian Ples rounds out the top performers from the defending Intermediate champions in their season opener.

Mark Fampulme led Karma Lounge with 21 points and 12 rebounds, JayR Puti added 14 markers while Michael Macaballug had 10 points, four boards, and four steals. Aljon Ramos collected five rebounds, five assists, and five steals on top of a game high 23 markers on 11/16 shooting from the field as the Ruel Kondo-owned Karma Lounge get their first win in the tournament.