Kagman beats Tanapag to claim boys U13 title

Posted on Jan 25 2023

The Kagman boys 13 division team poses with Northern Mariana Islands Basketball Federation and Tan Siu Lin Foundation officials after winning the championship of the 2022 Marianas Village Pride Basketball League last Sunday night at the Gillette Multi-Purpose Center. (CONTRIBUTED PHOTO)

Kagman won the championship of the boys 13 division of the 2022 Marianas Village Pride Basketball League after topping Tanapag, 41-32, last Sunday night at the Gillette Multi-Purpose Center.

In a battle of the Top 2 seeds in the division, Kagman took the initiative early and led 18-12 after the first 20 minutes of action and never looked back. 

Liam Wilson led the champions with 8 points with Danny Defang and David Apatang ably supporting him with 6 points apiece. 

Runner-up Tanapag was paced by the 6 points each of Biboy Sabino and Hanz Ansus. 

Kagman coach Leo Naraja tipped his hat to his boys for working hard to win the boys U13 championship. 

“I believe that our hard work and determination was the key to our championship win. Being alongside Joe Diaz as an assistant coach in the past, I have learned the many do’s and don’ts. So being here in the championship, I knew that there was no room for mistakes. We made sure to take advantage of the mismatches and the deep bench we have. With our many defensive, offensive, and all-around players, every lineup had to go according to plan,” he said.

Naraja said being new in the sport, the boys U13 Kagman team was understandably nervous coming into the title game against Tanapag.

“One thing I took note of before the game was to reassure the team that feeling nervous is part of the process. The moment they step on that court, focus on only you, your team, and the game itself. To not worry about the crowd or what others have to say, because they are the ones who are playing in the game. I told them that there is a reason why they are in the championship. They have put in countless hours on and off the court, so I know that they are the best 13U team out here. They are all great kids and players, and I know that they are capable of doing anything just as long as they put their mind to it.”

Lastly, Naraja dedicated the boys U13 crown to his players’ parents.

“They have been a source of support for the players. Without them and their trust in me as a coach, none of this would have been possible.

Sunday night was also sort of bittersweet for Naraja as later in the evening his own Gualo Rai team in the boys U18,  where he’s one of the top guns, lost to Koblerville in the finals. 

“Coaching these boys is already a win in itself. After the game, the boys gave me their trophy and dedicated their win to me. Although we have placed second [in the boys U18], these boys continue to inspire me to keep working harder,” he added.

In the battle for third, Oleai nipped Finasisu in a closely contested match, 49-47.

The result of the women’s finals will be published in tomorrow’s issue of Saipan Tribune.

Kagman 41 – Wilson 8, Defang 6, Apatang I 6, Enriquez 4, Viola 4, Matsumoto 4, Tenorio 3, Pangelinan 2, Pineda 2, Camacho 2.
Tanapag 32
– Ansus 6, Sabino 6, Rectitud 5, Tenorio 4, Edsrelon 4, Garcia 4, Tibayan 3.
Scoring by halves: 18-12, 41-32.

Mark Rabago | Associate Editor
Mark Rabago is the Associate Editor of Saipan Tribune. Contact him at Mark_Rabago@saipantribune.com
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