Rollers Black are U19 champions

Posted on Apr 13 2021

Rollers Black players and coach Joe Diaz pose for a group photo after winning the U17 championship of the Rollers Basketball Association 2021 Spring Madness League last Sunday at the Koblerville Gymnasium. (Mark Rabago)

Finals MVP Matthew Richardson messed around and got a triple double to lead Rollers Black to a 92-54 shellacking of Sonics in the Rollers Basketball Association 2021 Spring Madness League U17 championship game last Sunday at the Koblerville Gymnasium.

Only needing to win one game to wrap up the age group championship, the Rollers Black of coach Joe Diaz didn’t waste any time as they quickly erected a double-digit lead in the game’s first five minutes with Richardson making his best Russell Westbrook impersonation and Chioni Dela Cruz and Derrick Atalig shooting the lights out from everywhere in the court.

By the time the first half of action was done, Rollers Black had already beaten the off-form Sonics black and blue as they led by 18 big points, 47-29. At that point, Richardson was already halfway from a triple double with 8 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 assists. Tony Kim, tried his best to keep the Sonics’ heads above water, firing 10 points in the first half.

Rollers Black went supersonic against the Sonics in the second half, as they parlayed turnover after turnover and missed shots by the Sonics into uncontested fastbreak layups and wide-open 3-pointers. As a result, the point difference really got out of hand with Richardson free to pass to his sharpshooting teammates and rebounding to his heart’s content all the misfiring Sonics’ errant attempts en route to dishing out 11 assists and hauling down 15 rebounds on top of his 11 points.

Dela Cruz top-scored for the U19 champions with 27 points, while Atalig back-stopped him with 21 of his own. The Sonics were led by Kim’s 19 points and 8 rebounds, while Regular Season MVP Khristian Itaas had a quiet 16 markers with 10 rebounds, 6 assists, and 3 steals.

Rollers Black’s Matthew Richardson tries a chase-down block on Sonics’ Tony Kim in the finals of the Rollers Basketball Association 2021 Spring Madness League U17 last Sunday at the Koblerville Gymnasium. (Mark Rabago)

Coach Diaz, who founded the then-Garapan Rollers more than 20 years ago, said he couldn’t be prouder of his players for not letting up against the Sonics.

“I’m so proud of our boys as we play as a team. Most of them have been playing together for years and I just told them ‘let’s focus on defense first and our offense will be there.’ I also told each of them to know their role on the team, meaning if your position is center then play your position as we need to control the rebounds.”

He also have kudos to Richardson for posting a rare triple-double in the finals. “He’s the best two-way guard in our club and I’m proud of him. I did not even know that he had triple-double. After our two-hour team practices, he will still stay back and work harder in his individual skills.”

In the awards ceremony immediately following the U17 championship game, Regular Season MVP Itaas was named Scoring Champ (46) and King of Assists (13), King of Steals was Ol’Aces’ Albert Atan (13), King of Rebounds was Rollers White’s Jimmy Jecino (25), and King of Blocks was Rollers Black’s Jeff Sagum (5).

Coach Diaz also thanked Rollers Black’s major sponsor, Pacific Amusement Co., for supplying their dry-fit shirts. He also thanked House Speaker Edmund Villagomez (Ind-Saipan), vice speaker Rep. Blas Jonathan T. Attao (R-Saipan), floor leader Rep. Ralph Yumul (R-Saipan), and Reps. Vicente Camacho (D-Saipan), Denita K. Yangetmai (D-Saipan), John Paul Sablan (R-Saipan), and Joseph A. Flores (Ind-Saipan) for sponsoring the trophies and medals for RBA’s 2021 Spring Madness League.

Rollers Black 92 – Dela Cruz 27, Atalig 21, Richardson 11, Mizutani 10, Lahara 7, King 6, Sagum 4, Deleon Guerrero 4.

Sonics 54 – Kim 19, Itaas 16, Francisco 7, Bravo 4, Elchico 4, Mendiola 3, Contreras 2.

Scoring by halves: 47-29, 92-54.

Mark Rabago | Associate Editor
Mark Rabago is the Associate Editor of Saipan Tribune. Contact him at
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