Ol’Aces Elite takes boys U15 title


The Ol’Aces Elite’s Ricco Saralu pulls up for a shot against the 670 Sonics/PHI’s Christian Bravo during the second half of their boys U15 title game in the Diaz youth caging last Saturday at the Gilbert C. Ada Gymnasium. (Roselyn B. Monroyo)

The Ol’Aces Elite had a perfect run in the 2017 Francisco M. Diaz Memorial Youth League, capping its immaculate record with a 46-36 victory against the 670 Sonics/PHI in their boys U15 division title match last Saturday at the Gilbert C. Ada Gymnasium.

The Ol’Aces Elite took the championship as it broke away past the last 10-minute mark of the second half and withstood the Sonics’ late rally.

Ahead by only 6, 30-24, the Ol’Aces went on a 12-2 scoring surge to establish their biggest lead in the game, 42-26, with a little over three minutes left in the match. Ricco Saralu and E.J. Abejo teamed up in the onslaught, drilling 6 points apiece, while the Sonics got their 2 markers off Khristian Itaas’ pair of charities.

The Sonics then made their own rally, cutting the deficit to as low as 8, 34-42, with Adonis Favor, Christian Bravo, Clarence Contreras, and Raven Francisco knocking in a basket each. Bravo nailed the last bucket at the 1:45 mark and had a chance to move the Sonics closer when he attempted another shot following an Ol’Aces Elite muffed offensive play. However, Bravo missed his target, while the Ol’Aces Elite got the rebound and went on a 2-on-1 fastbreak play. Abejo was on the finishing end, but his banked shot against Favor rattled off the rim. Fortunately for the Ol’Aces Elite, Saralu was there for the trailer job and the put-back to bring their lead back to twin digits, 44-34.

The Sonics then faltered on their shots anew on the other end, while Abejo canned a point-blank shot to take the fight out of their foe, as the Ol’Aces Elite increased its advantage to 12, 46-34, down to the last 43 seconds of the finale.

Abejo and Saralu both finished in double figures with the latter posting a game-high 18 points and the latter adding 12, Contreras paced the Sonics with his 10 points.

The finals victory over the Sonics was the Ol’Aces Elite’s eighth in the division. They swept the six games in the round-robin regular season and then defeated the Natibu Warriors in the semis.

Meanwhile, in the battle for third place, the NMI Rollers eased past the Natibu Warriors, 63-47.

The NMI Rollers spread the wealth for its 16-point winning margin. Sunjoon Tenorio led the squad’s balance scoring with his 14 points, Matthew Ong contributed 10, while Roger Valencia added 10. J.P. Cruz and Chioni Dela Cruz chipped in 9 apiece, while Erwin Villarin logged 7.

Ol’Aces Elite 46 – Saralu 18, Abejo 12, Ichihara 6, Atan 4, Laxa 4, Ogasawara 2.
670 Sonics/PHI 36 – Contreras 10, Bayot 6, Favor 6, Bravo 4, Francisco 4, Itaas 2.
Scoring by halves: 22-20, 46-36.

NMI Rollers 63 – Tenorio 14, Ong 12, Valencia 10, Cruz 9, Dela Cruz 9, Villarin 7, Factor 4, Eugenio 3, Gonzales 1.
Natibu Warriors 47 – Kumuch 15, Malonzo 11, Atalig 10, Daikichy 4, Lizama 3. M. Norita 2.
Scoring by halves: 36-29, 63-47.

Roselyn Monroyo | Reporter
Roselyn Monroyo is the sports reporter of Saipan Tribune. She has been covering sports competitions for more than two decades. She is a basketball fan and learned to write baseball and football stories when she came to Saipan in 2005.

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