Team Four went from last placer to top finisher in the 2012 Kanoa Resort Christmas Basketball Tournament.
Team Four, which was ranked fourth and last in the playoffs, emerged as the champion of the holiday caging after pulling off a 64-39 upset over Swerve in the winner-take-all finals last Saturday at the Gillette Multipurpose Gymnasium.
Rachel Abrams had a monster game for Team Four, scoring 33 points to complete her squad's uprising in the four-team tournament. Team Four won its debut in the three-round robin caging, but went on to drop two of its last eight games and lost four straight matches to enter the single-elimination playoffs with a 3-6 record.
Swerve also went on a slump in the final round and fell from first to second place with its 5-4 record, while Team Go So Hard and Air Apparent claimed the No. 1 and 3 spots with their 6-3 and 4-5 marks, respectively.
Swerve went on to save its campaign in the holiday caging with a heart-stopping 50-49 win in the second semis game last Friday, while Team Four took the first finals berth with a 54-32 rout of the top-ranked Team Go So Hard.
Team Four then rode on its momentum gained from the semis victory over Team Go So Hard to post another upset the finals. Team Four, which had 1-2 record against Swerve before the playoffs, was right on the money at the opening buzzer of the winner-take-all finale, built an early double-digit lead, and never looked back.
Abrams dropped 11 points in the first period, 6 of them came from breakaway layups, as Team Four also played good defense to force errors and make way for Abrams' uncontested shots. Team Four watched Swerve's passing lanes and the latter went on to lose possessions on several occasions. With Team Four getting baskets off Swerve's booboos, Abrams towed her squad to an 18-6 lead.
Notably, Kaylani Lebria scored majority of Swerve's points in the opening canto, but she too struggled offensively in the next two quarters and none of her teammates stepped up to fill the gap. Lily Williams, who was consistent with her quarterbacking job before the playoffs, was a non-factor although she scored 11 points, while Nicole Lebria also had a so-so game with her 6 markers. Karlene Reyes and Madeleine Alegre completed the scorers for Swerve, making 4 points each, but these were made when the game was already out of Swerve's hands.
Team Four had the game in the bag as early as the second quarter went it led by 28 big points at the break, 40-12. Again, Abrams anchored Team Four's offense, adding 8 more markers in the second canto. Her dominance must have inspired her teammates, as four other Team Four players lit up the scoreboard in the second canto.
The Abrams show continued in the second half and she capped her game-long brilliance with a long jumper in the final one minute of the one-sided match.
Meanwhile, Team Go So Hard saved third place in the holiday caging after beating Air Apparent in the consolation game, 42-37.
Jan Travilla, who missed their semis match, made up for her absence in the battle for third place after firing 24 markers. Teresita Sablan, who was also absent in their semis loss, did not score for Team Go So Hard, but had a lot of assists and was steady at the point guard spot for her squad.
Team Go So Hard held Air Apparent to 6 points apiece in the second and third quarters to seize control of the game and protected the lead in the fourth behind Sablan's feeds for Travilla and company.
Team Go So Hard 42 - Travilla 24, Echavez 6, Diaz 4, Olivos 4, Cristobal 2.
Air Apparent 37 - Pagarao 18, Ito 5, Padilla 4, Javier 2, Mendoza 2, Gatchalian 2.
Scoring by quarters: 9-8, 17-14, 29-20, 42-37.
Team Four 64 - Abrams 33, Sapong 10, Samson 8, Castillo 6, Ocampo 4, Vargas 2, Badilles 2.
Swerve 39 - K. Lebria 11, Williams 11, N. Lebria 8, Reyes 4, Alegre 4.
Scoring by quarters: 18-6, 40-12, 52-22, 64-39. (Saipan Tribune)