Team Kio vs Rampage in Tinian caging finals

Team Kio’s Paka Sablan, left, and Team CNMI’s Estevan Borja contest the jump ball in midcourt

Team Kio’s Paka Sablan, left, and Team CNMI’s Estevan Borja contest the jump ball in midcourt at the start of their semifinal game in the Island-wide Men’s Bud Light Basketball League Monday night at the Tinian Multi-Purpose Gymnasium. (CONTRIBUTED PHOTO)

Team Kio continued its undefeated march to the championship of the Island-wide Men’s Bud Light Basketball League after advancing to the finals with a 97-82 victory over Team CNMI Monday night at the Tinian Multi-Purpose Gymnasium.

Its opponent will be Rampage after they also punched their championship ticket with a 65-58 victory over Devil Dog Warriors later in the evening.

The winner-take-all finals between Team Kio and Rampage will be played this Friday starting at 8pm. It will be preceded by the battle for third between Team CNMI and Devil Dog Warriors beginning at 6pm.

In its win against Team CNMI in the first game, Team Kio actually had an inauspicious start as it trailed 22-29 after the first quarter. The semifinals jitters, however, went away come the second quarter as Robert Reyes, Lucio Sanchez, and Dustin Sablan each scored 8 points to give Team Kio a 55-48 lead at the half.

They would only get better come the start of the third quarter, as their defense limited Team CNMI to 16 points while scoring 20 points themselves to open up a 75-64 spread heading into the fourth and final quarter.

Reyes then exploded for 11 points in the final canto as Team Kio left Team CNMI biting their dust to grab the first finals slot. Reyes led all scorers with 29 points, while Sablan added 26 markers of his own. Kim King added 14 points with Sanchez and Paka Sablan chipping in 12 points apiece. Dennis Borja and Louise Maligson paced Team CNMI in the loss with 22 and 20 markers, respectively.

The other semifinal match between Rampage and Devil Dog Warriors was much more intense and physical than the first game. There was a lot of pushing, trash talking, elbowing, and slapping. As a result technical calls due to harassing the two referees were called. Thankfully, head referee Dawn Sarmiento eventually succeeded in maintaining control of both teams.

Wesley Walker got out of the gates firing, scoring 14 points in the first quarter as Rampage held a 26-11 lead. He shot 7 more points in the second and with help from big man Toram Borja gave their team a 42-25 advantage at lemon time.

Jake Montgomery and Damon Kada spearheaded a Devil Dog Warriors rally at the start of the third, as they combined for 15 points to help trim their deficit to 54-44 entering the payoff period. Their rally, however, fell short in the final 10 minutes of the contest as Walker and Leo Pascua hit crucial baskets to salt away the win for Rampage.

First Game

Team Kio 97 – Reyes 29, D. Sablan 26, King 14, P. Sablan 12, Sanchez 12, Repeki 2, Manglona 2.
Team CNMI 82 – D. Borja 22, Maligson 20, A. Borja 14, Santos 13, E. Borja 9, Manansala 2.
Scoring by quarters: 22-29, 55-48, 75-64, 97-82.

Second Game
Rampage 65 – Walker 25, Pascua 13, Cepeda 8, Jay. Epity 7, Manglona 6, T. Borja 4, R. Borja 2.
Devil Dog Warriors 58 – Montgomery 23, Kada 14, Kubinski 11, James 5, Beal 3, Navarro 2.
Scoring by quarters: 26-11, 42-25, 54-44, 65-58.

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

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