Koblerville ends Gualo Rai’s perfect run

Posted on Jan 06 2023

Devin Igisomar skies for a layup against Gualo Rain in the second half of their boys 18 division match in the 2022 Marianas Village Pride Basketball League last Wednesday night at the Gillette Multi-Purpose Center. (MARK RABAGO)

Koblerville ended Gualo Rai’s quest for perfection and in the process took the No. 1 seed in the boys 18 division of the 2022 Marianas Village Pride Basketball League last Wednesday night at the Gillette Multi-Purpose Center.

Led by Ja Morant clone Airson Atan’s 35 points, Koblerville extricated itself from a close first half by using a running attack in the homestretch to beat the erstwhile unscathed Gualo Rai squad, 61-53.

Both teams were evenly matched in the first half as you would expect from the Top 2 teams in the division with Koblerville eking out a candlestick 25-24 lead at intermission. 

Koblerville, however, started the second half with aplomb as it immediately dropped a 28-15 run against Gualo Rai to open up a 14-point spread.

But Gualo Rai wouldn’t go down without a fight as back-to-back triples by Leo Naraja and Lucio Aldan and a free throw by the former cut down Koblerville’s once-imposing lead to 53-46 time down to 5:28 in the match.

Craig Padayao’s layup with 4:05 left made it even closer with 53-48 remaining, before Atan’s two free throws gave them some breathing room. 

Naraja’s two free throws made it a 5-point game again, but Tynk Basa’s put-back restored a 57-50 advantage for Koblerville as the two-minute warning was announced. 

Gualo Rai would then misfire on a bunch of hurried 3-pointers in the homestretch to kiss their aspirations of an undefeated elimination round and  a No. 1 seed in the playoffs goodbye. 

Atan led all scorers with 35 points, while Devin Igisomar and Basa added 11 and 10 markers, respectively.

Naraja paced Gualo Rai in the loss with 19 markers followed closely by the 18 of backcourt mate Aldan. Padayao added 12 points.

Despite finishing with identical 6-1 win-loss records, Koblerville took the top seed in the age group heading to the playoffs via the winner-over-the-other rule. 

It will face 4-3 Dandan in the first round of the playoffs on Sunday, Jan. 8. Gualo Rai, meanwhile, will battle 5-2 Tanapag tomorrow, Jan. 7.

In other divisions, it will be Kagman (7-1) vs Oleai (3-5) and Tanapag (6-2) vs Finasisu (4-4) in the first round of the playoffs in the boys 13.

In the women’s division, top seed Dandan (8-1) will square off against fourth seed Kagman (5-5), while second seed Garapan (6-4) will duel third seed San Vicente (5-5) in their own Final Four.

Before the epic Koblerville-Gualo Rai showdown, Dandan edged Navy Hill, 53-51, in the boys 18 thanks to key free throws by Aiden Suba and Kenny Laquian.

In the same age group earlier, San Antonio mangled San Vicente, 67-19.

On Tuesday, Dandan beat San Antonio, 65-51, and Tanapag defeated Chalan Kiya, 75-60,  in the boys 18; and San Vicente dropped Kagman, 46-33, and Garapan got by San Jose, 55-44, in the women’s division.

Last Monday, Mikayla Lopez fired the last 6 points for Garapan to lead them to a 47-46 win over San Vicente in women’s play. 

Also in the same division, Dandan outplayed San Vicente in crunchtime, 33-29.

Koblerville, meanwhile, warmed up for its battle against Gualo Rai with a 107-13 drubbing of San Vicente in the boys 18.

Koblerville 61 – Atan 35, Igisomar 11, Basa 10, Omar 5.
Gualo Rai 53 – Naraja 19, Aldan 18, Padayao 12, Garcia 4.
Scoring by halves: 25-24, 61-53.

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

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