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Saipan Vegas, ARC nip foes

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The Game’s Mak Mintac, second left, runs into the defense of Aqua Resort Club’s Arnold Arellano during the third quarter of their match in the Atkins Kroll Marianas International Basketball League last Saturday at the Gilbert C. Ada Gymnasium. (Roselyn B. Monroyo)

Saipan Vegas won the battle of undefeated teams, while Aqua Resort Club snapped its three-game losing streak in the Atkins Kroll Marianas International Basketball League last Saturday at the Gilbert C. Ada Gymnasium.

Saipan Vegas eked out an 80-78 victory over IT&E off Preston Basa’s buzzer-beating triple, giving the former a 5-0 record, while Aqua withstood The Game’s late rally for a 75-74 triumph.

Before Basa’s dagger, Junar Guiab knocked in a trey that put IT&E on top for the last time, 78-77, with five seconds left in the thrilling game. Saipan Vegas sued for time to map out a make-or-break play and when the match resumed, Aiferson Atan was the designated inbound passer, starting the play on the opposite side of their bench.

After a series of down screens, Douglas Schmidt came out to receive the ball, which he temporarily lost, as IT&E’s Jaymark De Guzman reached in from behind and partially tapped the leather away. Fortunately for Saipan Vegas, Schmidt recovered the loose ball and seemed headed for a drive, but eventually swung it over to Basa at the right key in front of their bench. Schmidt had the presence of mind to jump in a pass to Basa, as Jack Aranda and Errol Peredo moved in for help defense with De Guzman lagging behind after attempting to steal the ball. The IT&E gamble backfired, as Basa was left open and pulled the trigger even before Peredo and Aranda rushed back to challenge the shot that went in as the final buzzer sounded.

The sorry loss ended IT&E’s winning streak to four, as the team bungled a 13-point lead at the break, 41-28, allowing Saipan Vegas to grab the victory and the solo lead in the 10-team field.

Basa and Coby Santos top-scored in Saipan Vegas’ come-from-behind triumph after making 19 points each. Basa delivered five triples, while Santos nailed three shots from beyond the arc and was the consistent scorer for Saipan Vegas. Schmidt added 12, recording all of them in the second half to anchor Saipan Vegas’ rally.

Guiab led IT&E with his 13 markers. Paolo Rafols also had a baker’s dozen, but was held to 4 points in the second half. Only Guaio hit more than two field goals in the second half for IT&E.

Meanwhile, The Game rallied from a 20-point deficit in the fourth quarter and moved within a hair after Joe Sablan’s triple, but ran out of time in the end, allowing Aqua to escape with the win.

Aqua now has a 2-3 record after ending its skid, while it’s The Game’s turn to slide down, absorbing its third straight defeat.

Frank Ferrer and Greg Deleon Guerrero fired 20 points apiece in Aqua’s victory.

Aqua was already up by double digits at the break, 37-26, and pulled away further in the third when Ferrer and Deleon Guerrero combined for 20, handing their squad a 64-44 advantage.

With the big lead, Aqua played complacent in the fourth canto, while Mak Mintac and Sablan teamed up in bringing The Game back into contention, but fell short in the end.

First Game
Aqua Resort 75—Ferrer 20, Deleon Guerrero 20, Arellano 14, Mendiola 10, Itaas 6, Laborro 5.
The Game 74—Mintac 36, Sablan 16, Bernardo 10, Sanguyo 6, Vivero 4, Del Rosario 2.
Scoring by quarters: 13-17, 37-26, 64-44, 75-74.

Second Game
Saipan Vegas 80—P. Basa 19, Santos 19, Schmidt 12, Atan 10, Bondoc 7, Rabauliman 5, Sablan 4, Lizama 4.
IT&E 78—Guiab 13, Rafols 13, Peredo 11, Devero 8, De Guzman 6, Flores 6, Barbo 5, Aranda 4, Rabasto 3, Talania 3, Demapan 3, Esdrelon 3.
Scoring by quarters: 18-12 28-41 56-61 80-78.

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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