Ol’Aces Real Deal survives scare

The Ol’Aces Real Deal’s Coby Santos, left, takes off for a layup against the 670 Sonics XVIII’s Jude Tengco, right, during the closing minutes of their boys U18 division title game in the Diaz youth caging last Tuesday at the Gilbert C. Ada Gymnasium. (Roselyn B. Monroyo)

The Ol’Aces Real Deal averted a monumental collapse in the finals to slip past the 670 Sonics XVIII, 63-56, and clinch the boys U18 title in the 2018 Frank M. Diaz Memorial Youth League last Tuesday at the Gilbert C. Ada Gymnasium.

The Ol’Aces Real Deal had to squander a 20-plus lead before getting back to its feet in the closing minutes of the title game and surviving a scare from the 670 Sonics XVIII.

Coby Santos made a cold-blooded trey to douse the fired up 670 Sonics XVIII, which managed to steal the lead, 56-54, after trailing by 22, 49-27, late in the third period and falling behind by as much as 24, at the halftime break, 16-40.

Khristian Itaas’s layup gave the 670 Sonics XVIII its first taste of the lead at the 2:12 mark of the fourth quarter, but that also served as the last basket for the team, as it committed one turnover after another to fall short in its comeback bid.

After losing the driver’s seat, the Ol’Aces Real Deal kept their composure and Santos countered with a right corner triple to regain the lead right in the ensuing play, 57-56. Paulo Rafols tried to retaliate quickly when he drove to the basket, but missed, while the towering Dean Blake grabbed the rebound and made a touchdown pass to Kevin Kabiriel, who made the fastbreak layup for their 59-56 advantage 1:32 left on the clock.

The 670 Sonics XVIII sued for time after that, but when the game resumed, Itaas’ inboun pass for Alipio inside was intercepted and the Ol’Aces went for another fastbreak layup. E.J. Abejo muffed the layup, for fortunately for the Ol’Aces, Santos was there for a trailer job and the putback that gave their team a 61-56 advantage, with less than a minute left in the game.

Another 670 Sonics XVIII booboo returned possession to the Ol’Aces when Jude Tengco dribbled the ball too much and lost it to Blake, who completed the play by feeding Abejo for the getaway layup and the eventual champion’s 7-point lead, 63-56, down to the last 32 seconds of the match.

The 670 Sonics XVIII called its last timeout after that, hoping to stay in the game with a quick 2-pointer or a triple. Neither materialized, as Tengco was trapped in the corner by Santos and Blake and gave the possession away, again. The Ol’Aces then melted down the clock, while the 670 Sonics XVIII opted not to give up preemptive fouls—a sign that it had already waved the white flag.

Despite the lost, the 670 Sonics XVIII put on a gallant fight, starting its recovery from a 20-plus deficit with a little over four minutes left in the third period. The 670 Sonics XVIII had a 13-1 windup to bring the Ol’Aces’ lead down to 10, 50-40. Tengco anchored the rally, scoring 9 points in that surge, including 7 straight to close the third period.

Then in the fourth canto, the 670 Sonics XVIII continued its uphill climb, outgunning the Ol’Aces in the first seven minutes and change to steal the lead, 56-54. The Ol’Aces lost control when it was held to a field goal for around 12 minutes, bridging the late third-quarter meltdown and majority of the fourth. However, the pennant champion showed poise down the stretch to rule the division with an unbeaten record in 14 games (11 in the elimination and three in the playoffs).

Santos was named Finals MVP for steadying the ship and scoring a game-high 20 markers in the title match. He also took the regular season MVP. N-Nes Siech and Karibiel finished the finals in twin digits, too, logging 16 and 11, respectively. Tengco paced the 670 Sonics XVIII with his 18 points.

Meanwhile, the CT Law NMI Rollers placed third after beating the 670 Sonics XVI in the consolation game, 57-53.

Cris Arceo towed the CT Law NMI Rollers to the 4-point victory after registering 23 markers.

Finals
Ol’Aces Real Deal 63 — Santos 20, Siech 16, Kabiriel 11, Blake 6, Abejo 4, Sacdalan 4, Peter 2.
670 Sonics XVIII 56 — Tengco 18, Alipio 16, Itaas 11, Rafols 6, Ordona 2, Diaz 2, Cobacha 2.
Scoring by quarters: 18-8, 40-16, 50-40, 63-56.

Consolation
CT Law NMI Rollers 57 — Arceo 23, Oguromo 11, Valencia 10, Quitugua 4, Dela Cruz, Cruz 2, Johnny 2.
670 Sonics XVI 53 — R. Bernardo 17, Chavez 14, Contreras 7, Dancel 7, B. Bernardo 2, Galang 2, Mendoza 2.

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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