The Game beat previously undefeated San Antonio Sixers twice in the finals to annex the championship of the NMI Rollers Basketball Association’s Inaugural NMI Rollers Men’s Basketball Tournament last night at the Koblerville Gymnasium.
After escaping with an 88-85 win in the first match, The Game rallied from 15 points down in the winner-take-all second game to win the championship in pulsating fashion, 81-80.
The Sixers were still in control of the game ahead by 10 points, 61-51, with 10:52 left. However, The Game outscored their opponents 20-13 in the next 7 minutes and change. The run was punctuated by a 3-pointer by Greg Deleon Guerrero that made it 74-71 with time down to 2:53.
Center Josh Andrews came to the rescue of the Sixers in their next possession by swishing his own 3-pointer to give his team a 6-point lead, 77-71. Joe Sablan, however, had other ideas and responded with his own bomb from beyond the arc to make it 74-77 at the 2:29 mark of the ballgame.
After a botched offensive set by the Sixers, The Game’s do-it-all point forward Richard McWilliams drove hard to the basket and scored on an athletic layup to make it a 1-point deficit.
Andrews came up big again 15 seconds later with his second straight hit from long distance that gave the Sixers’ 4-point advantage. Not to be outdone, Jeff Sagum hit his own trifecta to make it 80-79 with 1:14 ticks in the heart-pounding match. The Sixers and The Game exchanged fruitless possessions before Jun Fidelino stole the ball from The Game’s frontcourt and had a wide-open fast-break layup but muffed it.
The Game will not blow its own opportunity in its next possession, however, as McWilliams dribbled inside the 3-point line before passing to Eric Joe for an alley-oop layup with 25.5 left in the game clock that turned out to be the final score, as the Sixers’ desperation heaves from 3-point country and inside the paint were not answered.
McWilliams led The Game in the title-clinching victory with 28 points and 7 rebounds, while Joe, despite sustaining a leg injury 10 seconds into the game, still finished with a double-double with 11 points and 13 rebounds. Bouncy Jeff Sagum also delivered for coach Clint Albert’s squad as he pumped in 20 points and hauled down 10 rebounds.
Andrews paced the Sixers in the tough loss with 19 points on top of 10 caroms, while Khristian Itaas chipped in 12 markers and hauled down 10 boards.
In the first game played a couple of hours earlier, The Game erased the Sixers’ twice-to-beat advantage thanks to some timely baskets from Sagum, Sablan, and McWilliams.
They led by as much as 21 points, 69-48, with around 15 minutes left in the game but almost squandered it as the Sixers, led by Fidelino, made a game out of it before running out of gas in the end.
Sagum led all scorers in Game 1 with 25 points, while McWilliams and Joe supported him with 15 markers apiece. Fidelino scorched The Game with 24 markers of his own, while Andrews had another double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
The Game advanced to the finals after beating Ol’Aces in the semifinals last Saturday, 90-78. Ol’Aces earlier arranged a semis tiff with The Game following a 112-82 demolition of Blue Haus. On Friday, Ol’Aces and Blue Haus advanced following their wins over Pacific Auto and GMJ/IKKI, respectively. Ol’Aces eliminated Pacific Auto, 103-79, while Blue Haus disposed of Bolabois, 94-83.
The Game 88 – Sagum 25, McWilliams 15, Joe 15, Sablan 10, Blake 10, Bernardo 8, Deleon Guerrero 5.
Sixers 85 – Fidelino 24, Andrews 14, Aranda 14, Itaas 10, De Guzman 9, Flores 8, Leung 4, Javier 2.
Scoring by halves: 46-40, 88-85.
The Game 81 – McWilliams 28, Sagum 20, Joe 11, Deleon Guerrero 15, Blake 3, Sablan 3.
Sixers 80 – Andrews 18, Flores 15, Itaas 12, Fidelino 11, De Guzman 10, Aranda 6, Leung 4, Brennan 3.
Scoring by halves: 43-42, 81-80.