Saipan Vegas wins opener


Saipan Vegas’ Suanni Pua, center, takes off for a layup against TanHoldings Jun Alipio, right, and Biboy Centina during the third quarter of their game in the Atkins Kroll Marianas International Basketball League last Saturday at the Marianas High School Gymnasium. (Roselyn B. Monroyo)

Saipan Vegas blew out TanHoldings, 108-80, for a rousing start in the Atkins Kroll Marianas International Basketball League last Saturday at the Marianas High School Gymnasium.

Saipan Vegas caught fire early to set the tone in the one-sided match and hit past the century mark in its debut in the 10-team league. Saipan Vegas exploded for 32 points in the first quarter to establish a double-digit lead, 32-20, and never gave TanHoldings a chance to trim the deficit to a decent number.

Preston Basa, Douglas Schmidt, Franco Bondoc, Aiferson Atan, and Greg Sablan teamed up in Saipan Vegas’ jackrabbit start. Basa drilled two triples and finished the first quarter with 8 points—the same output Schmidt, Sablan, and Bondoc had—while Atan added 6.

TanHoldings’ offense in the opening canto was not that bad, as Jun Alipio and Michael Torregosa tried to keep the squad afloat after combining for 15 markers. However, TanHoldings simply could not match Saipan Vegas’ firepower and quickness, as the latter’s young guns pushed the ball on several occasions to get away with uncontested layups.

With Saipan Vegas’ guns blazing, its lead never went down to single digit despite limiting the minutes of its starters in the second half with the team sitting comfortably on top.

With its offense in sync, Saipan Vegas had five players scoring in double figures. Sablan finished with 23, while Atan and Bondoc added 20 and 17, respectively. Basa had 16, 12 of them came from the 3-point area, while Schmidt had an all-around game, as he flirted with a triple double after recording 12 markers, 12 assists, and nine steals. The former CNMI national team member also had 7 rebounds.

While Saipan Vegas had several players hitting double figures, Alipio and Torregosa were the only two bright spots for TanHoldings after making 19 and 16 points, respectively.

The Game 86, AK Toyota 76
In the second match, The Game saved the best for last to steal the win from AK Toyota.

The Game logged 26 points in the fourth quarter—its highest production in a quarter—to turn a 60-64 deficit at the end of the third to a 10-point victory.

The trio of Jun Javier, Mark Mintac, and Keith Santos joined forces for The Game in the payoff period, as they delivered 6 points apiece. Jun Fidelino added 4 points, while Bryan Bernardo and Jave Sablan contributed 2 markers each.

AK Toyota collapsed in the fourth period, as only Rodney Catalla drilled more than one field goal for the squad, making a triple and a deuce. Kelvin Fitial, who had 16 points after three periods, was scoreless in the final frame, while George De Guzman and Jediael Manalo nailed only one basket each, and Brian Natividad was held to a pair of free throws.

First Game
Saipan Vegas 108—Sablan 23, Atan 20, Bondoc 17, P. Basa 16, Schmidt 12, Libuw 8, Rabauliman 6, Pua 4, Diaz 2.
TanHoldings 80—Alipio 19, Torregosa 16, Deleon Guerrero 12, Centina 9, Dayao 6, Pablo 5, Tenepere 5, Echavez 4, Lumen 2, Nonato 2.
Scoring by quarters: 32-20, 57-42, 83-64, 108-80.

Second Game
The Game 86—Mintac 23, Fidelino 18, Jo. Sablan 11, Santos 10, Castro 5, Ja. Sablan 4, Abejo 3, Bernardo 2.
AK Toyota 76—Fitial 16, Manalo 10, Catalla 11, Boswell 8, Natividad 8, De Guzman 9, Borja 2, Francia 2.
Scoring by quarters: 21-18 42-41, 60-64, 86-76.

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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