Miami finally got one against Los Angeles when the local version of the Heat topped an all-girls Sparks team, 30-9, in the U15 championship of the 2021 NMI Rollers Summer Bash last Sunday at the Koblerville Gymnasium.
The Sparks of coach Marlene Lumabi got on the board first after a 3-pointer by Kaia Travilla, but it was all Heat after that as the boys of coach Jun Estolas ran away with the victory.
Kyrel Caraig paced the champions in scoring with 12 points, followed by Estolas’ son Eros with 9 markers. Travilla paced the unbowed all-girls team with 5 points while point guard Fiona Bucalig added 4 markers.
The rest of the Heat are Franklin Erich, William Yue, Art Travilla, and Jake Regalado. The squad of coach Lumabi was also made up of Raina Avelino, Andrea Ramos, Kaeli Pathil, and Steph Flores.
Coach Estolas said even though they were facing an all-girls team in the finals, he told his boys to give no quarters and play like it’s any other finals game.
“The girls are also going to Guam to play in a tournament so I told my team to give them tough defense so they could experience that in a game to toughen them up for future competition,” he said.
He also commended his team for being coachable and always willing to learn and listen and those qualities, he said, led them to the championship of the U15 division.
Lumabi said despite the runner-up finish, the Sparks by making it to the championship round proved that the girls can certainly play with the boys.
“I’m super pumped. It’s actually been a while since we had a tournament that we had good amount of girls that came out. So our last scrimmage was January and this is our first tournament as a team. Actually we made it to the championship! It’s pretty historic for the girls. I’m just so proud of them. I started actually with just a six-girl squad and now we have a 12-girl roster.”
The Sparks advanced to the finals after a 14-13 upset of the Utah Jazz team in the semifinals that had Lumabi all excited about the future of women’s basketball in the CNMI.
“I’m excited to what is to come for women’s basketball in the CNMI. I’m actually part of those trying out for the CNMI Women’s National Team. I have three of my younger girls trying out with me. Women’s basketball in the CNMI is going to be exciting!” she said.
Results of the U9 and U12 divisions of the 2021 NMI Rollers Summer Bash will be published in the next issues of Saipan Tribune.
Miami Heat 30 – Caraig 12, Estolas 9, Yue 4, Regalado 3, Erich 2.
LA Sparks 9 – Travilla 5, Bucalig 4.