Rollers, Ol’Aces split titles

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A Rollers player, second right, wins the battle for the rebound during their U16 division title game against the Ol’Aces in the 2019 Pacific Amusement/NMI Rollers Youth Basketball Tournament last Saturday at the Koblerville Gymnasium. (Kimberly A. Bautista)

The Rollers eked out a thrilling 49-48 victory over the Ol’Aces during the U16 division finals match in the 2019 Pacific Amusement/NMI Rollers Youth Basketball Tournament last Saturday at the Koblerville Gymnasium.

Behind at 47-48, after the Ol’Aces’ Craig Padayao missed his first free throw and hit the second one, the Rollers had five seconds left to run a make-or-break play. Ervin Villarin did the former, as he got a pass from one of his teammates and drove to the basket for the game-winning shot.

The Ol’Aces sued for time in a last-ditch effort to steal the win and secure the division title, but the clock (two seconds remaining) just did not work to their favor, as they were not squared off for a shot.

Besides hitting the dagger, Villarin also top-scored for the Rollers after firing 18 points. He got help from Steve King and Derrick Atalig, who contributed 14 and 8 markers, respectively.

Villarin was visibly overjoyed by his last shot and said that although he scored the most points on the team, the only thing on his mind at that moment was to make the one shot that mattered.

“All I was thinking at that moment was to box out, get the rebound, and just make that last shot in. I was really excited when I made that shot, I really wanted this championship, now I got it. I’ve been playing for four years, this was my first championship,” Villarin said.

The Rollers-Ol’Aces finale was a back-and-forth match right from the get-go, as neither team was willing to give in. The first half ended with the Ol’Aces ahead by only a hair, 25-24.

Then in the second half, the game remained close and was tied last at 47-all, before Padayao’s split broke the deadlock. However, the Rollers had the last say, thanks to Villarin’s basket.

Greg Deleon Guerrero had 19 points in the sorry loss for the Ol’Aces.

Meanwhile, the Ol’Aces notched the U14 division crown after besting the Rollers in the first title match, 59-49.

Craig Padayao lifted the Ol’Aces to the championship win after recording 25 points, while DK Eiden chipped in 11.

Nyrel Eugenio also had 25 points for the Rollers, while Merrick Toves and Freddy Pelisamen added 12 markers apiece.

First Game
Ol’Aces 59—Padayao 25, Eiden 11, Atan 8, Santos 7, Kapwich 6, Aldan 5.
Rollers 49 – Eugenio 14, Toves 12, Pelisamen 12, Alvaro 4, Diaz 2, Naraja 2, Macaranas 2.
Scoring by halves: 24-22, 59-49

Second Game
Rollers 49—Villarin 18, King 14, Atalig 8, Lajara 4, Palmes 3, Pangelinan 2.
Ol’Aces 48—Deleon Guerrero 19, Ichihara 8, Padayao 8, Laniyo 6, Castro 3, Soriano 2, Kaipat 2.
Scoring by halves: 24-25, 49-48.

Players and officials of the Ol’Aces gather for a group photo after receiving the U14 championship trophy following their 59-49 win over the Rollers in the 2019 Pacific Amusement/NMI Rollers Youth Basketball Tournament last Saturday at the Koblerville Gymnasium. (Kimberly A. Bautista)

Kimberly Bautista | Reporter
Kimberly Albiso Bautista has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at kimberly_bautista@saipantribune.com.

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