SBL names Mini Games national team


Seventeen of the 25 players that make up the CNMI National Baseball Team for the Northern Marianas Mini Games 2022 pose for a group photo with manager Manny Sablan, right standings, and coach Derron Flores, third from left standing, at the Miguel “Tan Ge” Basa Pangelinan Softball Field. (MARK RABAGO)

The CNMI Baseball National Team tasked to win the gold medal in the Northern Marianas Pacific Mini Games 2022 has been named.

Minus competition the past couple of seasons due to COVID-19 and damage to the Francisco “Tan Ko” M. Palacios Baseball Field brought about by Super Typhoon Yutu in 2018, the Saipan Baseball League held tryouts starting last November and from nearly 60 they cut it down to 36 last December.

Just two weeks ago, SBL officially named the 25-man national team that includes five alternates and they are the following: Pat Alepuyo, Dennis Cabrera, Jerald Cabrera, Brian Camacho, Diego Camacho, Juan Iguel, Lamarc Iguel, Ben Jones Jr., Darion Jones, Josh Jones, Byron Kaipat, A.J. Lizama, Jose Lizama, Keoni Lizama, Poland Masaharu Jr., Franko Nakamura, Tyrone Omar, John Peter Sablan, Nokki Saralu, Lorenzo Sebaklim, Nate Smith, Jordan Suel, Anthony Tenorio, Patrick Tenorio, and Shane Yamada.

SBL president Jay Santos said while he’s glad that manager Manny Sablan and coaches Derron Flores and Gary Cruz now have their team, he feels bad for the players that didn’t made the cut.

“I’m not happy with the 25 because I hate having to cut so many good players. There’s a lot of very committed ballplayers who really wanted to make this squad and I want to thank them for their hard work,” he said.

Santos added that the baseball tryouts for the Mini Games was unprecedented as in the past the SBL selected national players based on their performance in the most recent baseball season.

“Like what I’ve said with these guys here, everything we’ve done thus far has been brand new to everybody. We never held tryouts before as you were selected based on your performance and statistics [from the previous season]. But out here you really have to come out and perform. It’s been hard on the players. They’ve seen a lot of their very close friends and family members get cut and I know it’s been difficult for a lot of these guys. It’s been very difficult on the coaches and the manager as well,” he said.

Santos said he couldn’t ask more for all the players who tried out for the Mini Games and those include all of the original 56 that answered the call in November to join the national pool.

“First and foremost, thank you to everybody who came out and tried out. We’re down to 25. We’re only allowed 20 so there’ll be a cut of five more. We’re going get the best 20 that we can get.”

With 136 expected players, baseball will be played at the aforementioned Francisco “Tan Ko” M. Baseball Field, which has a planned facelift coming for months.

Aside from the CNMI, teams that will compete in the baseball competition of the Mini Games include American Samoa, Federated States of Micronesia Fiji, Guam, Palau, and the Solomon Islands. Australia and New Zealand may also send their baseball teams to the quadrennial event, but as of January 2022, both have yet to submit their numeral entries to the Mini Games.

Aside from baseball, the other sports that will see action in next year Mini Games are athletics, badminton, beach volleyball, golf, outrigger canoe or va’a, tennis, triathlon, and weightlifting.

Mark Rabago | Associate Editor
Mark Rabago is the Associate Editor of Saipan Tribune. Contact him at

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