The USS McCampbell survived the CNMI men’s developmental team, 58-55, in an exhibition game at the Gilbert C. Ada Gymnasium last Thursday.
The visiting Hellcats eked out the 3-point win after the CNMI players, who are trying out for slots on the team that will represent the Commonwealth in the 2014 Micronesian Games in Pohnpei, failed to connect on a game-tying triple in the closing seconds of the tight match.
According to Gabriel White, who was the team captain for the CNMI crew in the exhibition match, they had 14 seconds left to send the game into overtime. The CNMI’s bid to extend the game started when USS McCampbell missed a shot and Jimmy Tudela collared the rebound and threw an outlet to White. The team captain then spotted Preston Basa spotting on the left sideline, but the latter missed his attempt from beyond the arc. Jawn Joyner, who ran with Basa to their frontcourt but moved on the opposite side, battled the offensive rebound against a USS McCampbell player after the missed triple and managed to tap the ball away from his foe. The leather went to drop near the half court line and White was a bit far away to reach for the ball as time expired.
The USS McCampbell vs. CNMI exhibition match went down-to-the-wire despite both teams’ slow starts. The Hellcats, who are captained by Loren Rucker, scored 13 points in the first quarter, while the host’s was held to a field goal. The Commonwealth players then redeemed themselves in the second quarter, firing 18 points against the 11 of the visitors to move within a hair at the break, 20-21.
The match remained close after that with the CNMI, according to White, taking the lead several times in the third and twice in the fourth before the Hellcats capitalized on its height advantage to get point-blank baskets and regain the upper hand.
Besides Rucker, USS McCampbell fielded nine other players for the exhibition game (full names were not provided), while the CNMI had 11. Joining Joyner, White, Tudela, and Basa in the friendly match were Greg Iginoef, Kobe Mendoza, Mike Espinosa, Dan Barcinas, Leowell Cristobal, Zach Babauta, and Ezra Caro.
The close match against the Hellcats was part of the CNMI’s preparation for the Micro Games, which will be held in July this year. Basketball Association of Northern Mariana Islands is sending a 12-player men’s team to the Micro Games. Tryouts and training sessions have started early this month and drew a mixed of high school players and former CNMI standouts. BANMI has also begun it tryouts for the 12-player women’s team.
The CNMI placed runner-up to Guam in women’s basketball in the 2010 Micronesian Games in Palau, while its men’s squad had a dismal sixth place showing in the previous quadrennial competition.