Defending champions Sonics remained in the Top 2 of the team standings in the U19 division of the 22nd Annual Saipan Rotary Club Youth Basketball League, following a 62-55 victory over the Ol’Aces last Monday night at the Gilbert C. Ada Gymnasium.
The Sonics improved to a 5-1 record, just one win behind the undefeated and division leader S.J. Ol’Aces (6-0). The Sonics have one more game left in the round-robin regular season, as its match with the Kagman Cougars (4-2) last Wednesday was rescheduled to give way another event at the gym.
The Ol’Aces (1-4) will play two more matches with the first one set tonight against Proa (4-2) and the second and last this Friday versus the COPSSA Warriors (0-5). Completing the U19 field are the Rollers (2-4) and Rebelholics (1-5) and all eight squads will advance to the single-elimination playoffs with the Top 4 teams to be paired against the bottom four in the first round.
The Sonics, who absorbed their lone loss this season at the hands of the S.J. Ol’Aces (49-39), are likely to remain in the Top 2 after the 7-point win over the Ol’Aces. The defending champions led from start to finish, holding their ground against the Ol’Aces’ repeated rallies in the second and fourth quarters and getting a big lift from Jack Aranda.
Down by 10 at the end of the first period, 11-21, the Ol’Aces managed to move within four at halftime, 25-29, after Jessie Olopai found his rhythm in the second canto. Olopai was scoreless in the first frame before drilling all his 8 points in the second quarter.
However, the Ol’Aces failed to keep its momentum in the third period, while Jack Aranda unloaded three straight triples to start the second half and bring order back to the Sonics. Aranda went on to hit one more trey and finished the third quarter alone with 15 points, powering the Sonics to a double-digit advantage after 24 minutes of play, 49-37.
Despite trailing by twin digits, anew the Ol’Aces were not ready to give up and drew baskets from multiple players in the early part of the fourth to stay in the game. However, the Sonics would not be denied, as Aranda also got help from his four other teammates to keep the lead and the win. Aranda was held to two free throws in the fourth, but Bryle Alegre and Nevin Salem stepped up, combining for 7 markers, while Jun Javier and Jed Villanueva added one field goal apiece.
Sonics 62 – Aranda 20, Salem 12, Alegre 10, Javier 9, Feria 7, Tudela 2, Flores 2, Villanueva 2.
Ol’Aces 55 – Kaipat 16, Darag 8, Olopai 8, Nakashima 7, Laniyo 6, Williams 2, Floresca 2, Moses 2.
Scoring by quarters: 21-11, 29-25, 49-37, 62-55.