Fiesta Resort & Spa Saipan and Sun Palace registered contrasting wins to remain in the Top 3 of the team standings in their respective divisions in the 2017 TanHoldings Christmas Basketball Tournament.
Sun Palace coasted to a 66-38 victory over the 670 Sonics XVII in the boys division game, while Fiesta Resort nosed out Marianas Variety in the women’s division tiff, 36-33, last Saturday at the Gillette Multipurpose Gymnasium.
With its 28-point winning margin, Sun Palace now has a 4-1 record to stay at No. 3 in the rankings in the eight-team field and boost its playoff chances. Only the Top 4 squad will advance to the playoffs after the elimination round. The 670 Sonics XVII is in danger of not making the cut, as it fell to a 1-4 slate for sixth place in the team standings.
Christian Morales led Sun Palace’s lopsided win after firing 27 points. He broke loose in the second half, drilling 17 points to anchor Sun Palace’s breakaway. Angelo Factor and Sunjoon Tenorio had 14 and 10 markers, respectively, to back Morales up.
Before its dominance in the second half, Sun Palace was ahead by only 5 at the break, 27-22. The 670 Sonics XVII then fell way behind when it failed to contain Morales and had only Christian Bravo hitting his target.
In the second game, Fiesta Resort played steadier in the homestretch, while Marianas Variety missed a couple of free throws.
Fiesta Resort was up, 35-31, with less than 30 seconds left, when Marianas Variety had opportunities to tie the match as Mikki Kautz and Louisa Han made it to the 15-foot line. However, Kautz and Han only split their charities, allowing Fiesta Resort to keep the shaky lead, 35-33, Fiesta Resort, after Han muffed her second charity, grabbed the rebound and used the clock before Marianas Variety finally fouled Irish Pagarao, down to the last 1.9 seconds.
Pagarao knocked in the first charity for the insurance and missed the second one. Players from the opposing teams then fought for the rebound and none of them had clear possession as time expire.
Pagarao led all scorers with her 16 points and handed Fiesta Resort a 5-2 record for second place in the team standings. Marianas Variety dropped to a 3-4 slate, but remains at No. 4 in the six-squad field, which will award playoff berths only to the Top 4 finishers after the double-round robin elimination.
Sun Palace 66 — Morales 27, Factor 14, Tenorio 10, Kim 6, Hahn 2, Galarion 2, Hinson 2, Santiago 1.
670 Sonics XVII 38 — Bravo 12, Caruana 6, Francisco 6, Diyco 4, Linaogo 2, Danford 2, Ejercito 2, Ben 2.
Scoring by halves: 27-22, 66-38.
Fiesta Resort 36 — Pagarao 16, Tuazon 7, Borja 6, Lee 3, Villagomez 3, Joyce 2, Wally 2.
Marianas Variety 33 — Kautz 11, Flores 7, Villagomez 6, Chinen 3, Han 2, Reyes 2.
Scoring by halves: 22-19, 36-33.