Four more players advanced to the quarterfinal round of the Marianas International Basketball League’s Kings of The Game played last month at the Agape Gymnasium.
Jeff Castro, Coby Santos, Richard McWilliams, and Stephen Erdene won their respective matches in Bracket B of the competition with three of the four games in the group shown in Episode 2 of the basketball series on the YouTube Channel of MIBL and aired on Jan. 6.
Coby Santos was the first player to notch a quarterfinal slot in Bracket B after easing past Jaymark De Guzman, 12-4. The former Marianas High School standout built a 5-1 lead in the race-to-12 game and was never threatened after that to eliminate De Guzman. Santos knocked in back-to-back triples for a 9-4 advantage and then made a layup to move closer to victory, which came quickly when De Guzman failed on his own attempt from downtown and the former countered with a step-back trey from the top key. Santos bagged the win with still more than two minutes left in the 10-minute game clock.
Next up for the group was the match between two bangers—Arnold Arellano and McWilliams. With the two burly forwards missing a lot of outside shots, the game was decided in the paint, as the opposing players muscled their way to the basket.
There were a lot of lead changes and deadlocks in the second match in the bracket with the game tied last at 8-all. McWilliams then regained the lead when he drove strong to the basket and then pulled up for a jumper in the shaded lane, with less than two minutes left in the game. McWillams made it a 10-8 advantage when he hit a shot near the foul line and gained more cushion when he stole possession from Arellano in the last 30 seconds of the game and nailed an uncontested layup. Arellano tried to mount a last-minute comeback by attempting shots from the parking lot, but to no avail, as McWilliams kept the upper hand when time expired.
In the last tiff in Bracket B, Erdene downed early favorite Kelvin Fitial, using his quickness to score on several layups and a couple of 3-pointers (2-point basket).
With Erdene eliminating Fitial, the former set up a showdown against McWilliams for one of the two semis berths in Bracket B. Santos and Castro disputed the other semis ticket in the group. Castro bagged a free pass to the quarterfinals after Freddie Pelisamen got injured and forfeited the opening match in the tournament that was played last Dec. 12.
Santos, Castro, Erdene, and McWilliams joined Preston Basa, Mak Mintac, Dean Blake, and Douglas Schmidt in the quarterfinals. Mintac and Basa were paired in the quarterfinals match in Bracket A, while the other duel in the group featured Blake and Schmidt. Matches in Bracket A were shown in Episode 1 of the series last Dec. 19. Results in the Round of 8 matches will be aired on Episode 3 later this month.
The Kings of The Game was made into a YouTube series to promote the local basketball scene and The Marianas.