The S.J. Ol’Aces foiled the Sonics’ bid for a three-peat after recording an 86-74 victory in their U19 title game in the 22nd Annual Saipan Rotary Club Youth Basketball League last Friday night at the Gilbert C. Ada Gymnasium.
Christian Mizer unloaded four of his six triples in the fourth quarter to spell the difference in the winner-take-all finals that was neck-and-neck in the first three quarters. The third period ended with the S.J. Ol’Aces hanging to a 58-55 lead before Mizer started the fourth with a triple and then dropped back-to-back treys midway in that period to keep his team on top. The Ol’Aces went on to seal the win from the foul line, as it sank four free throws.
Mizer finished with a game-high 26 points and drew a lot of support from his teammates. Marc Babauta, who had 11 points in their semis win over the Rollers, played better in the finals, scoring16 points. Malcom Maui, who missed the semis game, muscled his way for 14 against the Sonics frontliners, while Kobee Mendoza and Mike San Nicolas combined for 17.
Jaymark De Guzman led the Sonics with his 25 points, while Jack Aranda contributed 20. The backcourt duo made it to the board early to give the Sonics a shaky 17-16 lead. The Sonics once led by 10, 17-7, but the S.J. Ol’Aces had a 9-0 windup in the last three minutes, with Mizer scoring 5 points in the rally, to stay in contention.
Mizer, who had one trey in the first canto, connected on one more and scored 7 markers in the second canto, while Mendoza and San Nicolas chipped in 6 apiece to keep the S.J. Ol’Aces afloat at halftime, 37-38. The Sonics maintained the slim lead with De Guzman tallying the team’s last 9 points.
However, the Sonics lost the upper hand in the third, as De Guzman, saddled by foul trouble, was held to two field goals. Eric Dela Rosa was also hampered by fouls, allowing Babauta to dominate the paint in the third and score 9 points.
Mizer was limited to two free throws in the third quarter due to cramping, but came out strong in the payoff period to foil the Sonics’ repeated comeback bids. The Sonics failed to bounce back, as De Guzman struggled anew in the fourth canto, hitting only one field goal and two free throws, which all came when the S.J. Ol’Aces had already secured the title win. He and Aranda tried desperately to bring the Sonics back on top, but they could not make baskets in streaks and missed the support of their big men. Jimmy Tudela was held to 4 points, Bryle Alegre had 12, but his baskets were scattered, while Dela Rosa notched only 8 points before fouling out late in the fourth.
The loss to the S.J. Ol’Aces was the Sonics’ second, as the former also handed the latter their lone defeat in the regular season. The Ol’Aces, on the other hand, had a perfect season, sweeping the seven games in the round-robin elimination and gaining two victories in the playoffs. The newly crowned champion had a mix of Saipan and Tinian players on its roster and was coached by Keith Nabors and Preston Basa.
S.J. Ol’Aces 86 – Mizer 26, Babauta 16, Maui 14, Mendoza 9, San Nicolas 8, De Leon 4, Olopai 3.
Sonics 74 – De Guzman 25, Aranda 20, Alegre 12, Dela Rosa 8, Tudela 4, Feria 4,
Scoring by quarters: 16-17, 37-38, 58-55, 86-74.