Team Marianas forces do-or-die Game 3


Team Marianas’ Coby Santos goes up for an acrobatic shot against Lakay-Islander’s Zeric Gant in Game 2 of their finals series in the open division of the Inaugural SCLC Basketball League last Tuesday night at the Civic Center Basketball Court in Susupe. (MARK RABAGO)

Team Marianas made six 3-pointers in the fourth quarter to turn a close game against Lakay-Islander into a blowout, 77-58, and force a deciding Game 3 in the finals of the open division of the Inaugural SCLC Basketball League Tuesday night at the Civic Center Basketball Court in Susupe.

Down 41-42 heading into the last 10 minutes of the contest, the CNMI national basketball pool outscored Lakay/Islander by 20 points the rest of the way to win the game by a mile.

The first of Team Marianas’ fourth quarter triples barrage came with 7:40 remaining when Jack Aranda gave them the lead, 48-47.

In the next play, Zeric Gant gave Lakay/Islander the lead back when he hit a 3-pointer of his own to make it, 50-48.

Team Marianas would take the bull by the horns when Devon Brennan cashed on a triple and made layup to make it, 53-50, time down to 7 minutes.

The game was still in the balance when Coby Santos connected from the land of plenty at the 5:38 mark to give Team Marianas some breathing room, 58-52.

Kyu Aldan then drove against the trees and passed to Shane Deleon Guerrero for a layup, 64-53, to give Team Marianas its first double-digit spread with time down to 3:20.

Lakay/Islander took one in the chin when Santos pulled up for another 3 and got the final knockout blows when Jeffrey Castro splashed back-to-back triples the last one giving Team Marianas a 73-56 lead a little over 2 minutes left and that was all she wrote.

National coach Joe Diaz said his team just made the necessary adjustment in Game 2 to force a deciding Game 3 Thursday.

“This second game we had to pick up our pace on the defensive side. We also needed to clean the boards, meaning we had to dominate the rebounding battle, and most importantly trusting each other.”

Diaz said after the Game 1 loss, they had a team meeting after practice and watched their loss on YouTube.

“That really helped us see what to work on and for me the first game my subbing rotation was off. But I told our national players that we needed to say something so we all kind of needed to get better as a team.”

Lakay/Islander actually took the initiative early and opened with a 14-11 lead after the first quarter as Marvin Rabauliman flexed his muscles inside.

They continued to have the upper hand in the second quarter as center Benjie Escano dropped 5 points to give Lakay/Islander as 27-26 spread at the close of the low-scoring first half.

Team Marianas continued to grope for form in the third and the lead seesawed between the two finalists. R.J. Palacios powered his way for 5 points in the third to give Lakay/Islander a 42-41 cushion. Things changed, however, midway in the fourth as the pendulum swung completely in Team Marianas’ way.

Chioni Dela Cruz led Team Marianas with 16 points, while Santos, Brennan, and Castro added 10 markers apiece. Palacios was the high-point man for Lakay/Islander with 15 points, while Rabauliman and Gant added 11 points and 10 points, respectively.
Team Marianas 77 – Dela Cruz 16, Santos 10, Brennan 10, Castro 10, Deleon Guerrero 9, Augenbaugh 6, Satur 4, Flores 4, Naraja 3, Aranda 3, Sablan 2.
Lakay/Islander 58 – Palacios 15, Rabauliman 11, Gant 10, Escano 7, Quan 5, Capalad 5, Basa 3, Jandoc 2.
Scoring by quarters: 14-11, 25-27, 41-42, 77-58.

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

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