The U9 Golden State Warriors duplicated their older brothers’ championship in the U12 by taking home the title in their division after defeating the Phoenix Suns, 24-18, in the 2021 NMI Rollers Summer Bash last Sunday at the Koblerville Gymnasium.
Jayla Ayuyu was like a player possessed for the coach Leo Naraja’s crew as she scored 15 points to pace the Warriors. Benjamin Cai also chipped in 7 in the win. The rest of the Golden State team included John Damien Sablan, Jayven Sablan, Luke Laxamana, and Jake Maratita Jr.
Mekean Iguel topped the Suns in the loss with his 12 points, while Devon Iguel added 6 markers. Other U9 Phoenix players were McKenize Castro, Micah Castro, Madden Deleon Guerrero, and Tony Xiao.
Coach Naraja said he had a brief talk with his players before the U9 championship and it obviously had a positive effect on the team.
“Right before the game started, I had a little chat with the kids. They were so curious if this was for all the marbles, and they were even worried about what would happen if they lost. As coach I had to try and get their mind off of that. I tried my very best to motivate them and make them enjoy the moment, in which they did,” he said.
Naraja commended the Warriors for exceeding expectations in capturing the championship.
“They absolutely played their hearts out, and I couldn’t be happier to coach these future stars. Everyone in the team played an important role. Jayla Ayuyu, MVP, was one person we had to count on all around, and was the key to our victory. John Damien Sablan, King of Assist, helped tremendously on the offensive end. Jake Maratita Jr. and Benjamin Cai, King of Rebounds, really helped us out on the defensive end. And the two youngest players on the team, Jayven Sablan and Luke Laxamana, were a huge help to us in which they played an outstanding all-around game. I also want to recognize the Suns for playing their hearts out. It’s amazing to see these kids play the game of basketball with so much love and passion,” he said.
Golden State Warriors 25–Ayuyu 15, Cai 7, Laxamana 2.
Phoenix Suns 18–M. Iguel 12, D. Iguel 6.