Title within Fiesta Resort’s reach

Fiesta Resort’s Nana Watanabe, left, dribbles her way into the defense of the Ol’Aces’ Alliyah Fernandez during the second quarter of Game 1 of their title series in the women’s division of the MIBF island-wide caging last Monday night at the Gilbert C. Ada Gymnasium. (Roselyn B. Monroyo)

Fiesta Resort & Spa Saipan escaped with a 54-52 victory over the Ol’Aces in overtime during Game 1 of the short finals series in the women’s division of the 2018 MIBF Island-wide Basketball League last Monday at the Gilbert C. Ada Gymnasium.

Game 2 of the best-of-three championship duel will be played tonight with Fiesta Resort gunning for a sweep and the Ol’Aces hoping for a win to force a deciding Game 3 this Friday.

Fiesta Resort worked on a balance offense to pull off the close win against the top-ranked Ol’Aces. Four different players scored for Fiesta in the extra period with Cassandra Camacho, Nana Watanabe, Jan Travilla, and Mikky Kautz making one field goal apiece. Eleina Santos drilled the two baskets for the Ol’Aces in the extension, while younger sister Annalei hit the other one.

It was a tough loss for the Ol’Aces, who led by as much as 7 in the second quarter, 18-11, but ended up falling behind at the break when Fiesta Resort rallied in the latter part of that period.

Multiple players teamed up in Fiesta Resort’s 13-2 scoring surge in the last five minutes and change of the second frame. Travilla, who is in town to suit up for the CNMI National Women’s Team that will play in the 2018 Micronesian Games in Yap, played for the first time for Fiesta Resort and contributed 4 markers in that spurt. Kautz, Quina Flores, and Nana Watanabe were the other players who scored for Fiesta Resort, which took a 24-20 halftime edge.

The Ol’Aces were stuck to 18 points for several minutes before a layup from Eleina ended the drought.

Eleina continued to carry the heavy load for the Ol’Aces when the game resumed, while Fiesta Resort spread the wealth to keep the upper hand, 36-31, entering the fourth quarter.

In the final canto, Eleina found an ally in her sibling, Annalei, as they helped the Ol’Aces send the game in extension. Madi Alegre also delivered clutch baskets for Fiesta Resort in the fourth period to save her team from losing the important series opener. The former Marianas High School standout scored Fiesta Resort’s last 4 points in regulation.

Then in overtime, the rest of Alegre’s teammates took over to move Fiesta Resort closer to the division title.

Alegre was the lone Fiesta Resort player to finish in twin digits with her 10 points, but she had six teammates adding at least 5 points each in the close win. Eleina Santos led all scorers with her 30 markers, while Alliyah Fernandez tallied 10, but was held to one field goal in the fourth canto and was scoreless in the extension. Annalei chipped in 9.

Meanwhile, the Ol’Aces drew first blood in the men’s division playoffs after pouncing on the Chalan Kanoa Ballerz, 109-35.

Six Ol’Aces players registered double figures in the pennant champions’ most lopsided win this season. The Ol’Aces took the pennant after earning a perfect 7-0 record in the round-robin contest, while the Ballerz had a dismal 1-6 mark and finished last in the rankings.

The single-elimination playoffs will continue tonight with No. 3 Akkeri (4-2) facing No. 6 Casino (2-5) in the curtain-raiser at 6:30pm. Other first round pairings are No. 2 670 Sonics (6-1) vs No. 1 Saints (2-5), and the No.4 Genesis All-Stars (3-4) vs No. 5 Ol’Aces Extra (2-5). Winners in the first four playoff games will battle for the two finals berths, while the championship round will be a best-of-three affair.

Fiesta Resort 54— Alegre 10, Espinosa 8, Travilla 8, Camacho 7, Watanabe 6, Ito 6, Kautz 5, Villagomez 2, Flores 2.

Ol’Aces 52 — E. Santos 30, Fernandez 10, A. Santos 9, Simram 2, D. Camacho 1.

Scoring by quarters: 11-14, 24-20, 36-31, 46-46, 54-52 (OT)

Roselyn Monroyo | Reporter
Roselyn Monroyo is the sports reporter of Saipan Tribune. She has been covering sports competitions for more than two decades. She is a basketball fan and learned to write baseball and football stories when she came to Saipan in 2005.

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