Rollers Blue went undefeated over the weekend to rule the Inaugural Agape Anniversary Youth Basketball Tournament at the Agape Gymnasium along Middle Road in Gualo Rai.
Coach Joe Diaz’s crew got into a huge hole early in the finals against Team Mezzing before rallying big time to win, 51-48.
DK Fiden was on fire early, scoring at will and wound up with 12 points to help Team Mezzing to a 33-25 lead at the half.
Roller Blue, however, would regroup in the second half and engaged Team Mezzing in a dogfight.
In the dying seconds, Merrick Toves would bail out Rollers Blue with 5 consecutive points to help his team take the lead and Leo Naraja would go 1-2 from the free throw line to peg the final score.
Naraja paced Rollers Blue in the championship game with 15 points, while Toves added 10. Fiden scored a game-high 17 markers, while Airson Atan added 12 in the setback. Rollers Blue center Frankie Satur was named MVP of the tourney.
Diaz commended the entire team for bucking a lack of practice time to win the championship. He also gave credit to Naraja and Toves for their clutch performances in the finals.
“Our boys didn’t have much practice and we basically only had three practices before this tournament. We just went through our basic fundamental knowledge of the game. We, the coaches (David Apatang Jr. and Chioni Dela Cruz), just said our boys are physically there but mentally we needed to play a puzzle game with them. The boys just worked as a team in the waning seconds and they made their free throws.”
Diaz, who subbed for Dela Cruz in the finals as the latter had work, thanked Rollers sponsors AP Consultant Company of Perry Inos Jr., Saipan Mayor David M. Apatang, RB Blas Camacho, JVJ Faith Lawn Care Service, Mr. and Mrs Iguel, David Apatang Jr., and the rest of the Rollers coaches Mike Mercado, Matt Iguel, and Marlene Lumabi, personal trainer James Lee, and Rollers tournament director Ethan Kwon for their invaluable contributions.
The Rollers founder also thanked the Rollers parents for coming to Agape Christian School and supporting the team.
“Collectively, I also want to make a big shoutout to Agape Christian School for hosting an 18-and-under basketball tournament and also coaches Eli Rangamar and Clint Albert for being the coordinators for this event. We, the Rollers, really appreciate them because running an event like this is not easy.
During the tournament, Diaz also helped coach Kagman Rollers and he’s also proud of the team finishing third place after turning back ACS, 60-58.
“I also felt proud of the Kagman boys as they really showed a lot of heart. In the consolation match they were down to just five players because of cramping and they said ‘just coach us and just do what you need to do.’”
Rollers Blue went 3-0 in pool play then beat ACS in the semis to advance to the finals. Team Mezzing was runner-up in the pool topped by Rollers Blue then defeated Kagman Rollers to punch a ticket to the finals.
The other teams that took part in the tourney were T-8, Rollers White, Team Latte, and Madsflex.
The Inaugural Agape Anniversary Youth Basketball Tournament was held in commemoration of the school’s 15th year anniversary as well as Agape Christian Church’s 30th anniversary.
ACC pastor Kok H. Pang congratulated Rollers Blue for winning the championship and thanked all the teams that took part in the competition.
“What a youth tournament! First and foremost, we thank our Lord for 30 years of blessings to the church and 15 blessed years for Agape. Secondly, thank you coach Elias Rangamar and Clint Albert for your great assistance in running the games. Thank you to the coaches and players of all eight teams who gave their all in this successful tournament. God willing, more will come in the future.”
Rollers Blue 51 – Naraja 15, Toves 10, Agaus 7, Eugenio 6, Satur 5, Factor 4, Aldan 2, Garcia 2, Roquepo 1.
Team Mezzing 48 – Fiden 17, Atan 12, Kapwich 7, Basa 6, Tapay 5, Mamgati 1.
Scoring by halves: 25-33, 51-48.