Vibes banked on a good start en route to a 64-51 title win over the Ol’Aces 2 in the U25 division of the 2016 TanHoldings Christmas Basketball Tournament last Saturday at the Gillette Multipurpose Gymnasium.
A 23-13 scoring spurt in the first quarter gave Vibes the early momentum and though the Ol’Aces 2 threatened the eventual champion a bit in the second period, the Matt Duenas-anchored squad still posted a double-digit winning margin in the one-game finals.
Duenas and Franklin Macahito teamed up in giving Vibes a 10-point lead after the first 10 minutes of play with the latter drilling 11 points and the former adding 9. They combined for all but one of Vibes’ field goals in the opening canto. Douglas Schmidt nailed the other field goal for Vibes, canning a triple from the right key despite being hounded by Ol’Aces 2 defenders the moment he got the possession.
The Ol’Aces 2 picked its poison, deciding to shackle Schmidt, who has earned a reputation as a great scorer in the various leagues he has played since arriving on Saipan more than two years ago. With the Ol’Aces 2’s defense focused on Schmidt that left the door for Macahito to show up in the finale. Duenas also benefitted from the Ol’Aces 2’s decision to stop Schmidt, as the former escaped with several shots underneath the basket and hit a couple of long jumpers.
Duenas’ long shot midway in the second period gave Vibes more breathing room after the Ol’Aces moved within 3, 22-25. It was followed by a triple from Schmidt and back-to-back baskets from Macahito, as Vibes ended the first half still on top, 32-25.
At the start of the second half, Macahito was held to 2 points, but Vibes had nothing to worry about, as Duenas was still at it, while Michael Mancao stepped up off the bench, scoring all his 8 markers in the third quarter. With Duenas finding a new ally in Mancao, Vibes regained the double-digit spread and posted its biggest lead, 53-38, entering the fourth canto.
With only 10 minutes left in the title game, the Ol’Aces 2 was pressed to make one final push, but it four field goals did not help the team’s comeback bid. Vibes, on the other hand, got three more field goals from Duenas early in the fourth canto to keep its safe distance.
Duenas led all scorers with his 21 points, while Macahito added 16. Mancao and Schmidt combined for 16 markers. Jeffrey Castro paced the Ol’Aces 2 with his 17 points, but was held to 3 points in the entire second half. Jerald Castillo was the second best scorer for the Ol’Aces 2 with his 9 points, but he was silent in the second and third periods.
Vibes 64 – Duenas 21, Macahito 16, Mancao 8, Schmidt 8, Santos 3,Eubanks 2, Vivero 2, Gamab 2.
Ol’Aces 51 – Castro 17, Castillo 9, Siech 8, Sablan 6, Onopwy 5, Ngirarois 4, Paragados 2.
Scoring by quarters: 23-13, 32-25, 53-38, 64-51.