LD Prime and Rollers Basketball Club's Rollers 2 both sweated out close wins this week as the 21st Annual Saipan Rotary Club Youth Basketball League's U20 division continued at the Gilbert C. Ada Gymnasium.
LD Prime overcame a 9-point deficit against Kagman in the final 10 minutes with a huge 27-point surge at crunch time for what turned out to be a solid 78-71 victory last Wednesday.
Rollers 2, meanwhile, also battled from behind through three quarters against Ol'Aces on Tuesday and climbed out of an 8-point hole in the final period thanks largely to four clutch free throws by Irvyn Malonzo that helped steal the win, 59-58.
Notably, Proa took on Hi-5 yesterday, and from there, the season resumes on Monday at the Ada Gym with the CK Saints debuting against RBC's Rollers 1 (0-1) at 5:30pm.
Kagman center Jason Lampkin and shooting guard John Santos hooked up right from the get go for 14 points that helped provide an early 20-17 edge.
But LD Prime's Lawrence Rollon scrambled for 9 points in the opening 10 minutes to keep his crew within firing range.
All six Kagman players then got at least one shot to fall in the second quarter as the group managed to push it to a two-possession lead at halftime, 38-34.
After the break, Lampkin and power forward Ton Malwelrue teamed up for a baker's dozen lead that surged Kagman further in front, 60-51, heading into the final canto.
The team was riding high after the uprising, but perhaps too high, as the group eased up at the start of the payoff period, which allowed its rival to hang around.
With more depth on its bench, LD Prime had a lot of gas left in the tank and turned to its transition offense to chip away at the lead.
Kagman lost its rhythm at the most inopportune time and endured some shortcomings on both sides of the court, causing its cushion to fade midway through the quarter as the shorthanded crew grew tired.
Lampkin was held to just three baskets in the final period and no one else stepped up under fire as they only managed 4 points in the last three minutes of the match.
LD Prime essentially took its first lead of the game, 73-71, with 32 seconds left in regulation, after which a 5-point cherry was added on top by Lawrence Espinosa before the final bell.
LD Prime's Rollon and point guard Jon-Keneth Quemado, who delivered 8 points in the late rally, combined for 43 points in the stunner, while the Kagman duo of Lampkin and Santos finished with 40 in defeat.
In Tuesday's game, Ol'Aces found the hot hand early in Ryan Ichihara, whose 8 points afforded his team a slim 13-12 lead after the first quarter.
Rollers 2 was right there, however, thanks to 7 markers by Prince Factor.
The teams were evenly matched as they grinded back and forth through the second period, but Ol'Aces remained ahead by a nose, 23-22 at midpoint. Ichihara and Factor both added 4 points in the frame.
Ol'Aces regrouped at halftime and got some more players involved on offense in the third quarter as Derrick Olopai and Matt Lisua came off the bench for 4 points apiece.
They also stuffed Rollers 2 to just 10 points on the other end and established a 41-33 advantage with 10 minutes left in regulation. However, the young RBC squad was far from finished.
Factor's absence played a factor in the breakdown, but he returned in the fourth quarter with the vengeance.
Factor sprinkled 11 points in between 6 points apiece by Irvyn Malonzo and Jeron Ano.
Four of Rollers 2's last 6 points came from Malonzo who did a good job working his way to the line, and an even better job making his free throws count.
Notably, Ol'Aces' Olopai pulled on an 8-point string at the start of the period, but fouled out, and Ichihara was held scoreless under pressure.
Rollers 2's Factor led all scorers with 22 points, while Ol'Aces' Ichihara turned in 17 on the short end.
LD Prime 78 - Rollon 22, Quemado 21, Espinosa 11, Esteves 10, Gunnacho 10, Pellegrino 4.
Kagman 71 - Lampkin 25, Jo Santos 15, Malwelrue 12, Je Santos 11, T. Santos 6, Besong 2.
Scoring by quarters: 17-20, 34-38, 51-60, 78-71.
Rollers 2 59 - Factor 22, Malonzo 13, Morales 9, Ano 8, Floresca 4, M Espinosa 2, Cayading 1.
Ol'Aces 58 - Ichihara 17, D Olopai 14, Aguilar 8, Teregeyo 6, Alfred 4, Lisua 4, Mendiola 3, Rogolifoi 2, C Rangamar 1.
Scoring by quarters: 12-13, 22-23, 33-41, 59-58.