Teamwork, defense keys to Rampage’s title run

Posted on Jan 03 2022


Rampage players pose for a group photo after winning the championship of the Island-wide Men’s Bud Light Basketball League last Wednesday at the Tinian Youth Center. (Contributed Photo)

Aside from the two-way dominance of Finals MVP Wesley Walker, coach Leo Pascua credits Rampage’s teamwork and emphasis on the defensive side of the floor as the keys to winning the championship of the recent Island-wide Men’s Bud Light Basketball League.

Team Rampage was crowned champion of Tinian’s men’s open league after fashioning a come-from-behind 56-51 win over previously undefeated Team Kio last Wednesday at the Tinian Youth Center.

“It was all teamwork and employing good defense. We have our MVP Wesley Walker taking charge on offense and defense. We also have our center Toram Borja aggressively blocking shots and getting all the rebounds. Then we have Jayron Epity with his signature hook shots,” he said.

Pascua added that even before the start of the finals game against Kio, the team was already upbeat about their chances of breaking their opponent’s 14-game winning streak and in the process crown themselves as champions.

“Prior to the start of the game, we were already in a positive mood, and encouraged each other that we made it to the championship as a third-ranked team in the playoff standing. All in all, it was great team effort as all team members played well during the championship game.”

The game for all the marbles last week was intense from the get-go with Kio taking a thin 13-10 lead in the first quarter thanks to the 6 points of Dustin Sablan.

Epity would not let Kio get too far ahead in the second canto, as he hook-shot his way to 8 points and Rampage kept it close down by just a deuce, 23-25, at the halftime break.

Sablan and Marvin Cruz tag-teamed in the third quarter to make up for the off game of leading scorer Robert Reyes. With the duo combining for 13 points, Kio managed to open a 40-35 spread heading into the fourth and final quarter.

At that point Reyes, who averaged nearly 20 points in the regular season, only had 7 points as Pascua masterfully rotated several players against him.

Primarily defended by the rugged Venny Untalan, Reyes never got into his comfort zone as he was constantly double- and triple-teamed and he lost the ball quite a few times because of this box-and-1 defensive scheme implemented by Pascua.

As the fourth quarter ensued, the pressure got the better of Kio to complete an unprecedented undefeated season. Rampage, for its part, just played their game and with Walker and Borja putting the finishing touches on a gem of a finals upset, Rampage was able to eke out the 5-point win to take home the championships.

Walker finished with 18 points, 11 rebounds, and six assists en route to winning the aforementioned finals MVP award. Epity chipped in 14 points, while Borja was a tower of power inside the paint with 8 points and a boatload of rebounds and blocks.

Kio was led by the 16 points of Sablan and the 13 points of Cruz. Reyes would score only 1 point in the fourth to finish with a season low 8 markers.

“On behalf of Team Rampage, we thank the TABA/TASA for organizing this basketball season, and we’re hopefully for another year or more of this to come. Most of all, a sincere appreciation to Tinian Mayor Edwin Aldan for sponsoring our team. Congratulations to all the teams and hope to see you all back again next season,” said Pascua.

Rampage 56 – Walker 18, Jay. Epity 14, T. Borja 8, Pascua 8, R. Borja 2, Reyes 2, Cepeda 2, Johanes 2.

Team Kio 51 – D. Sablan 16, Cruz 13, Reyes 8, King 7, Sanchez 7.

Scoring by quarters: 10-13, 23-25, 35-40, 56-51.

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

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