NMI 3×3 team remains in contention

Northern Marianas Sports Association president Mike White, center, joins the CNMI men’s 3×3 basketball team for a group photo during Day 2 of the competition in the 10th Pacific Mini Games at the Korman Stadium’s Hall 2 in Port Vila, Vanuatu. (Contributed Photo)

Team CNMI kept its medal hopes alive after snatching two wins out of the three games its played in the 3×3 men’s basketball event of the 10th Pacific Mini Games yesterday at Korman Stadium’s Hall 2 in Port Vila, Vanuatu.

The Commonwealth cagers narrowly defeated Nauru, 17-15, then banked on Jack Lizama’s inside presence in completing a 16-8 win over host Vanuatu before suffering a 21-12 loss to top seed Samoa. Team CNMI now has an even 3-3 record and needs to win at least one of its last two games against the Cook Islands and the Solomon Islands today to secure a playoffs berth.

Lizama muscled his way inside against Vanuatu to finish with 8 points, while Douglas Schmidt added 5.

Against Samoa, the CNMI was down by only 2, 12-14, with still four minutes left in the game, but went cold down the stretch, allowing its opponent to escape with the win.

“We just could not hit our treys. We had a lot of open looks, but our shots did not fall. We will play the Solomon Islands next. Our last twogames are all against tall teams, we need to at least get one of our next two games,” said team manager Elias Rangamar.

Team CNMI, on Monday, bowed to Fiji, 20-16, but bounced back with a 20-13 win over American Samoa before closing out Day 1 with an 18-7 setback against a tall Papua New Guinea side.

Samoa is still undefeated after five games as it followed up its opening day wins with victories over the Solomon Islands, 22-11 and the Cook Islands, 13-11. Samoa opened up its own gold medal campaign with a masterful 20-6 decision over Nauru then drubbed Vanuatu, 20-12, last Monday.

In other matches, Vanuatu escaped with an 11-10 win over the Cook Islands; American Samoa squeezed out a 10-6 decision over Fiji, which bounced back with a 20-11 pounding of Nauru; and the Cook Islands edged the Solomon Islands, 8-7.

PNG, another gold medal favorite, is also undefeated after four games. PNG, after beating the Cook Islands and the CNMI on Monday, breezed through American Samoa, 18-5 and then had another impressive win against Nauru, 15-7.

Meanwhile, New Caledonia is still on top of the medal tally with its 34 gold medals, 12 silver, and eight bronze. Papua New Guinea is ranked second with its 22-18-10 gold-silver-bronze haul, and is followed by Fiji (16-14-18), Samoa (15-10-5), and host Vanuatu (11-18-11).

Jon Perez | Reporter
Jon Perez has been covering local and international sports events for more than 15 years. His sports writing career started when he joined the weekly DAWN, University of the East’s student newspaper, when he was in college.

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