The Ballerz’s Dean Blake, Cassandra Camacho, and Coby Santos will represent the CNMI to the 2018 Mixed U-18 IBF Youth Leaders Basketball Cup that will take place in Indonesia in September.
The Ballers earned a ticket to the FIBA’s International Basketball Foundation-organized 3×3 tournament after ruling a qualifier held last Saturday at the Gilbert C. Ada Gymnasium. Blake and company were undefeated in the competition, securing the trip to Indonesia following a 22-10 victory in the finals against Hafa Adai.
Blake drilled the game-winning triple in Game 1 with still 23 seconds left in the finale. The title match, just like the regular game, was played for 10 minutes and the first team to score 22 points or have the lead at the end of the tiff wins. The Ballerz, which had a twice-to-beat advantage in the finals as it entered the title match with an unbeaten record, raced to a 10-3 advantage early and was never threatened to finish off the winded Hafa Adai.
The Duncan Laxa-led Hafa Adai fought out of the loser’s bracket after dropping its second game to the Ballerz. Hafa Adai, which also had Kina Rangamar, and Eric Deleon Guerrero as members, remained in contention following its victories over No Idea and Easy Money.
Up next for Hafa Adai was Krew and they slugged it out for the last finals berth. Krew downed Easy Money in its first game and also won over No Idea to set up a duel with the Ballerz for the first finals berth, which the former got. Then in the battle for the last finals ticket, Hafa Adai was in control before Krew mounted a late comeback.
Krew’s Dillan Cruz drilled three straight triples to tie the match, 17-all, with 19 seconds remaining on the clock. However, Krew committed a defensive lapse, allowing Laxa to get through the paint and receive a pass from Deleon Guerrero for the go-ahead basket, 18-17, down to the last seven seconds of the close game. Angelo Factor then went for a 3-point attempt at the buzzer, but missed, handing Hafa Adai the win and a finals meeting with the Ballerz.
A well-rested Ballerz faced the exhausted Hafa Adai players, who had only 10 minutes to rest before suiting up in Game 1 of the finals. Fatigue then took its toll on Hafa Adai, particularly its main gunner—Laxa—who muffed several shots, leaving the Ballerz a good opportunity to finish off its dead-tired foes early.
With the Ballerz topping last weekend’s tournament, Blake, Camacho, and Santos now have a chance to play against teams from Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Guam, Fiji, Myanmar, Laos, Brunei, Timor-Leste, Thailand, Philippines, Papua New Guinea, and Vietnam in the Sept. 7 to 10 competition at the Discovery Shopping Mall in Bali.