The U16 and U20 age division’s A-Teams reigned supreme in last Monday’s 21st Annual Rotary Club of Saipan Youth Basketball League season-ending all-star games at the Gilbert C. Ada Gymnasium.
Both games played out pretty loose until the fourth quarter where the notion of seizing bragging rights came into perspective across the board.
In the end, the A-Teams brought their A-games and both teams held off late rally cries by the opposing B-Teams.
The matches resulted in U16’s A-Team defeating its B counterparts, 72-64, after which U20’s A-Team hung on over the B-Team, 70-65.
U16’s A-Team was made up of Rollers 1’s Prince Factor, Emerson Feria, J.P. Iglesias, Irvyn Malonzo, and C.J. Morales, Hi-5’s Michael Ariaga, Jethro Cruz, and Wilfrdo Francisco with the CNMI Girls Jr. National Team’s Madeline Alegre and Glorily Williams.
U20’s A-Team members include Sonics’ Jimmy Tudela, Jaymark De Guzman, Bryl Alegre, and Jack Aranda with Oleai Ol’Aces’ Joseph Aguilar and Ryan Ichihara, and Rollers 1’s Erik Dela Rosa and LD Prime’s Carl Aldan.
In the U16 curtain raiser, A-Team’s Feria, Iglesias, and Williams all struck from behind the arch to give their team an early 17-14 edge in the first quarter, but the B-Team stuck around through the second period as it remained a one-basket contest, 29-27, in favor of A-Team at midpoint.
Kobee Mendoza delivered a handful of checks in the exchange, while teammate Ediberto Javier III headed the squad with 6 points in the half.
Feria led the A-Team with 7 markers in the first two frames, but was held to only a bucket in the third quarter.
Nonetheless, his teammates Morales and Malonzo filled the void to keep them in control heading into crunch time. The former darted for 5 points just after the break, while the latter drained a pair of treys at the end of the period.
B-Team flirted with a 30-point explosion in the fourth quarter, but was nowhere to be found on the defensive end as A-Team countered with a case to put it away.
Morales, who has a knack for showing up in the clutch, rang in a couple long balls just as the crowd filed in for the U20 game and clipped teammate Feria on the boxscore for a game-high total of 17 points. Javier III led B-Team on the short end with 14.
Then in the U20 tiff, A-Team’s Aranda and De Guzman bagged a couple of buckets in the opening 10 minutes that afforded the team a 12-6 advantage and teammates Bryle Alegre and Erik Dela Rosa hooked up for 14 points in the second frame to preserve the margin, 28-22, at the half.
Shane Deleon Guerrero-Diaz paced B-Team with 6 markers in the first half, however the team struggled to find its rhythm with all the new faces and appeared out of sync early in the game.
B-Team tried to feed off each other, but the disconnection continued through the third period as A-Team remained at the helm, 49-41, heading into the last canto.
A-Team center Tudela got involved in the third quarter stand and bulldozed his way to 6 points and a trio of 3-pointers by Alegre, Dela Rosa, and Aldan neutralized B-Team’s comeback attempt.
B-Team’s Malonzo came off the bench in the final minutes and scrambled for 7 checks, but the team simply ran out of time.
He led the group with 14 marks, however Alegre and Dela Rosa were a pair of beasts down low for A-Team and combined for a stout 33 points.
A-Team 72 – Morales 17, Feria 16, Ariaga 12, Malonzo 10, Williams 7, Alegre 4, Iglesias 4, W Francisco 2.
B-Team 64 – Javier III 14, Fidelino 10, T Palacios 9, Mendoza 7, Abrams 6, Camacho 4, De Leon 4, Ito 4, Manlili 4, Espinosa 2.
Scoring by quarters: 17-14, 29-27, 48-37, 72-64.
A-Team 70 – Alegre 17, Dela Rosa 16, Aranda 8, Deguzman 8,Tudela 8, Ichihara 6, Aldan 5, Aguilar 2.
B-Team 65 – Malonzo 14, Faisao 9, Deleon Guerrero-Diaz 8, Feria 8, J Palacios 7, Santos 7, Lampkin 6, Espinosa 4, Mettao 2.
Scoring by quarters: 12-6, 28-22, 49-41, 70-65.