Team Marianas, Blue Haus advance to open Final Four


Team Marianas’ Chino Dela Cruz, seen here in a file photo against JTM, scored 26 points against 670 Gravity in their open division match of the Inaugural SCLC Basketball League last Friday at the Gillette Multi-Purpose Gymnasium in Gualo Rai. (MARK RABAGO)

Team Marianas and Blue Haus posted contrasting wins to join The Game and Lakay/Islander in the Final Four cast of the open division of the Inaugural SCLC Basketball League last Friday at the Gillette Multi-Purpose Gymnasium in Gualo Rai.

In the first game, Team Marianas overcame a shaky first quarter before eventually overwhelming 670 Gravity, 100-78. The latter surprised the CNMI national basketball team pool in the opening 10 minutes of the contest to take a 19-16 lead.

However, that would prove the only silver lining for 670 Gravity as it only woke Team Marianas up from their slumber as they proceeded to wipe the floor clean of their opponents in the succeeding three quarters.

With Shane Deleon Guerrero and Ervin Villarin combining for 15 points, Team Marianas quickly established a double-digit lead and entered the half ahead by a whopping 21 points, 53-32.

It would only go from bad to worse for 670 Gravity at the start of the second half as more Team Marianas players joined the scoring party and the lead ballooned to 24 points going into the third and final quarter. It was all she wrote as the fourth quarter ensued with the eventual winners closing with the 22-point win.

Chioni Dela Cruz was on target all game long to finish with 26 points to lead six Team Marianas players in double digits. Ronald Bernardo was the lone bright spot for 670 Gravity as he came away with a game-high 33 markers.

In the nightcap, Blue Haus escaped JTM by the skin of their teeth when Brandon Talania made two of four charities inside the last 20 seconds to preserve an 84-81 victory. JTM came within a point of Blue Haus’ lead with less than 2 minutes left in the contest. But Talania was fouled and made his first before misfiring on the second.

Luckily for Blue Haus bull-strong Junar Guiab was able collect the rebound and after a hot potato moment the spheroid went back to Talania and he was fouled anew with less than 4 seconds left on the clock. He made one out of two again and JTM wasn’t able to connect on a 3-pointer to possibly send the game into overtime.

Elmer Esdrelon found the fountain of youth with his game-high 19 points. Talania and Ivan Devero added 14 apiece, while Ehrol Peredo and Guiab fired 11 each for food measure. Frank Ferrer paced JTM’s losing cause with 18 points.

Earlier in the week, The Game beat HBR International and Lakay/Islander defeated Paradise Realty to advance to the semifinals. The two will play in the 8pm second game on Thursday. It will be preceded by the Blue Haus-Team Marianas semis encounter at 7pm. Both matches will be held at the at the Gillette Multi-Purpose Gymnasium.

First Game
Team Marianas 100
– Dela Cruz 26, Castro 15, Villarin 13, Sablan 12, Aranda 12, Deleon Guerrero 11, Augenbaugh 8, Harson 2.
670 Gravity 78 – Bernardo 33, Torres 17, Macaraig 8, Agustin 8, Gaviola 4, Solis 4, Castillo 1.
Scoring by quarters: 16-19, 53-32, 79-55, 100-78.

Second Game
Blue Haus 84
– Esdrelon 19, Talania 14, Devero 14, Peredo 11, Guiab 11, De Dios 10, Bernardo 2, Santos 2.
JTM 81 – Ferrer 18, Directo 13, Gontar 12, Rodrriguez 8, Bayna 6, Demonteverde 5, Broncano 4, Dancel 4, Chua 3, Robiero 1.
Scoring by quarters: 15-18, 39-40, 64-57, 84-81.

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

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