Leones de Ponce stunned Capitanes of Arecibo in Game 5 of the Puerto Rico BSN finals series to take charge of the championship decider. An 81-91 victory on the road was enough for the franchise to take a 3-2 lead in the series, and with the finals descending on Ponce once again in Game 6, Leones will have the chance to wrap up the title at home.
The team is chasing its thirteenth Puerto Rico BSN crown, which would see Leones tie the record held by Bayamon and San German. It would also mean the franchise winning its second consecutive title after 2014’s success, which actually broke a drought of ten years. In that 10 year title lay off, Capitanes de Arecibo stepped in and won five BSN championships, but has not claimed success since 2011. The team will have to be at its best to stop Ponce on the road in Game 6.
Game 5 was actually very close on the stat sheet, with both teams tight in terms of rebounds, turnovers, and assists. However, Leones used a strong opening thirty minutes to put enough daylight on the scoreboard to avoid a Capitanes rally in the fourth frame. Pulling away through the first three periods, Ponce was hot from the charity strip and drained 78.8% of its attempts to make 26 of 33 from free throw distance.
With the series locked at 2-2 at tipoff, neither team wanted to commit mistakes in the opening stanza, so the first quarter was tight. Leones managed to edge a 13-15 lead through ten minutes before opening up in attack in the second quarter. During the period the visitors poured in 24 points and stopped Arecibo at 18 points, enough to take a 37-33 lead into the locker room for the long break. Capitanes emerged in better scoring form in the third act and nailed 24 points during the stint, the problem was Ponce continued its blitz on the bucket to stream in 27 points. Through thirty minutes the guests had carved a 57-64 lead onto the scoreboard. In the final act the hosts went hot with 26 points, but Leones managed to keep pace with 25 points to ease to victory in what was an exciting contest.
Adrian Uter led five Leones players in double digits with 20 points, tying the game high haul, while Uter also contributed off the glass with 9 rebounds. Daniel Angel Vassallo scored 16 points in the win, while Carlos Rivera and Mike Harris scored 14 points apiece, with Rivera having a stunning all-round game by adding 10 assists and 6 boards. Michael Rosario completed the high scorers with 10 points in victory.
Denis Clemente matched Uter for 20 points in the losing effort, followed by Chinemelo Elonu with 19 points and 7 rebounds. David Huertas was good for 12 points and 8 rebounds for Capitanes, while Walter Hodge chipped in with 11 points. Despite defeat, Arecibo continued to show enough attacking intent, suggesting the series is not over just yet.