Team Go So Hard completed its domination of Team Four after notching a 45-35 victory in their third round game in the 2012 Kanoa Resort Christmas Basketball Tournament last Wednesday at the Gillette Multipurpose Gymnasium.
The win gave Team Go So Hard a 3-0 record against Team Four, as the former also won in their first two meetings, 44-37 (Dec. 23) and 53-43 (Dec. 28). Overall, Team Go So Hard holds a 4-4 slate and recorded its first winning streak (two in a row) after and up-and-down performance in the first two rounds of the four-team tournament.
Team Four fell to a 2-6 record, as it played without key player Jeralyn Castillo in the first three quarters. Castillo missed the first 30 minutes of the match as she was coaching the Spencer United in a U12 futsal league. She joined Team Four in the fourth, but even her 8 successive points were not enough to overhaul Team Go So Hard's big lead.
Team Go So Hard built a 33-17 advantage after the third period and preserved the double-digit winning margin with Jan Travilla hitting timely baskets in the fourth canto. Travilla dropped 8 of her game-high 24 markers in the final canto.
The lanky Team Go So Hard forward hit her target early, making 6 points in the opening canto and lifting her squad to a 14-2 lead. Team Four faced an early twin-digit deficit, as it was held scoreless in the first six minutes before Reylyn Sapong ended the spell with an undergoal stab.
Rachel Abrams tried to keep Team Four alive in the second canto with her 5 points, but Team Go So Hard managed to stay on top at halftime, 18-11, despite scoring only two field goals in that period.
Team Go So Hard then brought the lead back to double-digits at the end of the third with Travilla and Christine Cristobal combining for 13 of their 15 markers at the start of the second half.
Behind by 16, Castillo attempted to rescue Team Four, as she hit back-to-back treys and added 2 more points midway in the final canto. However, Team Go So Hard neutralized her in the remaining half, while Travilla stepped up anew on offense to secure the win.
In the second game, Air Apparent also posted a 10-point victory over Swerve, 50-40.
The triumph was only the first for Air Apparent against Swerve, which defeated the former in their first two outings, 51-48 (Dec. 23) and 42-36 (Dec. 28).
After trailing by a hair in the opening canto, 7-8, Air Apparent grabbed the match's momentum in the second frame to improve to a 4-4 record and tie Team Go So Hard for the second to third place. Swerve absorbed its second straight loss after sweeping the first two rounds, but is still on top of the team standings.
Lalaine Pagarao scored 10 of her 21 points in the pivotal second quarter to put Air Apparent in the driver's seat at the break, 27-17. Kyla Ito added 5 markers and two other Air Apparent players also made it to the scoreboard in their second-quarter assault.
Swerve lost the lead in the second period, as only Lily Williams nailed more than one field goal in that quarter.
Williams then drew some help from her teammates in the third canto to move Swerve within 4 points, 30-34, but her supporting crew faded in the fourth anew, while Pagarao and company towed Air Apparent to its fourth win.
Meanwhile, the last two games in the preliminary round were played last night, while playoffs start today. Swerve, which was set to duel Team Four, is already assured of the No. 1 seed regardless of the results of last night's game and will meet the latter in the crossover semifinals. Team Go So Hard and Air Apparent, which battled for the No. 2 spot last night, collide anew for the second finals berth. The winner-take-all finale will be played tomorrow.
Team Go So Hard 45 - Travilla 24, Cristobal 7, I. Palero 4, Echavez 4, Lizardo 2, Sablan 2, J. Palero 2.
Team Four 35 - Abrams 12, Castilo 8, Pablo 6, Sapong 2, Enriquez 2.
Scoring by quarters: 14-2, 18-11, 33-17, 45-35.
Air Apparent 50 - Pagarao 21, Ito 11, Mendoza 8, Javier 2, Santiago 2.
Swerve 40 - Williams 15, K. Lebria 11, Reyes 8, Alegre 6.
Scoring by quarters: 7-8, 27-17, 34-30, 50-40. (Saipan Tribune)