Saipan Vegas takes finals opener

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Saipan Vegas’ Preston Basa takes off for a layup in front of four IT&E players during Game 1 of their finals series in the 2019 Atkins Kroll Marianas International Basketball League last Friday at the Marianas High School Gymnasium. (Kimberly A. Bautista)

Saipan Vegas Aces clobbered IT&E 91-69, in Game 1 of the finals series in the 2019 Atkins Kroll Marianas International Basketball League last Friday at the Marianas High School Gymnasium.

What was anticipated as a close game turned out to be one-sided, as Saipan Vegas came out more prepared in the opener of the best-of-three title series to move one win away from clinching the championship. Saipan Vegas was aiming to finish the series last night, as it battled IT&E in Game 2, but results of the match were available at press time.

Preston Basa, who knocked in the game-winning triple in Saipan Vegas’ thrilling victory over IT&E in the regular season, again punished their rival with his impressive outside shooting. Basa peppered IT&E with six triples, as he anchored Saipan Vegas’ strong start. He scored 8 points in the first quarter, while Douglas Schmidt, Coby Santos, and Aiferson Atan combined for 18 markers to lift Saipan Vegas to a 28-15 lead.

In the second quarter, Basa was held to 3 points, but his teammates stepped up, as Saipan Vegas increased the advantage to 20 at the break, 48-28.

IT&E faced a huge deficit in the first half, as it could not keep up with Saipan Vegas’ offensive firepower. Only Elmer Esdrelon scored more than two baskets in the entire first half, as Errol Peredo and Darwin Barbo, who were on target in their semis sweep against MS Villagomez, combined for only 5 markers in the first 20 minutes of play. IT&E’s bench could not get the job done either and the team clearly missed one of its gunners, Jaymark De Guzman, who was off-island and could not suit up for his squad in the opener.

Sans De Guzman and with its effective balance offense on shaky grounds, IT&E did not stand a chance against Saipan Vegas, which continued its domination in the second half.

When the game resumed, Basa also regained his touch, as he added 8 more points, while Santos made 9 to keep Saipan Vegas’ double-digit lead, 69-54, going into the final quarter.

In the fourth frame, Basa finished off IT&E, as he buried three triples to end the match with a game-high 28. Santos added 21, while Atan also had double figures after firing 16.

Elmer Esdrelon paced IT&E with his 16 points, while Barbo and Gerald Flores tallied 11 apiece, but got their baskets when the game was already decided. Jack Aranda who made 22 points in their two semis wins over MS Villagomez, was held to 4, while Sean Rabasto was scoreless in the finals opener.

Saipan Vegas 91—P. Basa 28, Santos 21, Atan 16, Libuw 7, Schmidt 6, Bondoc 6, Lizama 3, Kabriel 2, E. Basa 2.
IT&E 69—Esdreleon 16, Flores 11, Barbo 11, Devero 9, Guiab 6, Peredo 5, Aranda 4, Rafols 3, Demapan 2, Talania 1.
Scoring by quarters: 28-15, 48-28, 69-54, 91-69.

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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