Before making its return to the Rotary Club of Saipan’s 21st Annual Youth Basketball League U20 age division finals, defending champion Sonics made sure it took Rollers 1 to school, 66-44, in the pair’s semifinal match Wednesday at the Gilbert C. Ada Gymnasium.
The Sonics will face the winner of last night’s knockout match between Mariana Resort/Northern Marianas College’s second-ranked Proa and sixth seeded Cinderella team, Hi-5, for all the marbles tonight at 6:30pm preceded by the 5:30pm consolation feature.
The Sonics worked out an early 14-11 lead against Rollers 1 in the opening 10 minutes with good ball movement that enabled a handful of different players filling a role in the action.
The second quarter played out in similar fashion and though Rollers 1 managed to hang around, the count merely shifted to 26-23 in favor of the Sonics who again had five different donors involved in its output.
Jack Aranda and Ezra Caro paced the group with 6 points apiece in the first two frames, while Rollers 1 rode on the backs of Ralph Francisco and Erik Dela Rosa who accounted for all of the team’s offense in the first half.
The reigning champs then turned it on after the break and spurted ahead, 50-33, in the third quarter primarily because of a strong defensive stand that fueled a lot of easy points on the other end.
Aranda lit the wick with 5 more points at the start of the period, while teammate Nevin Salem came off the bench for a nice 10-point chunk that helped the squad pull away.
Rollers 1 was held to just 10 points in the third quarter and it was more of the same down the homestretch as the Sonics just grew stronger as the game progressed.
Smelling blood, the Sonics did not let up until the last minute of regulation, but nevertheless still managed to drop in one final shot for good measure as Rollers 1 basically conceded in the last 30 seconds with the game simply out of reach.
The Sonics boasted seven different contributors in the payoff period. Aranda went on to lead the crew in the game with 13 points in a well-balanced attack.
Rollers 1’s Francisco led all scorers with 21 points, but only received help from Dela Rosa and Herbert Maranan in the game.
Sonics 66 – Aranda 13, Salem 12,Palacios 12, Villanueva 8, Caro 6, Deguzman 5, Tudela 4, Alegre 2, Javier III 2.
Rollers 1 44 – Francisco 21, Dela Rosa 16, Maranan 7.
Scoring by quarters: 14-11, 26-23, 50-33, 66-44