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JR NATIONALS OUTLAST CHUUK

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By Errol Alegre, Jr.

Michael Sakazaki scores this pull-up jumper over Chuuk’s Jaypo Fredrick. (photo by Errol Alegre, Jr.)

The UOG Field House filled yet again with basketball fans and athletes during the second day of the week-long 2012 FIBA Oceania Micronesian Basketball Tournament. To start the night’s games, the Guam Junior National Team defeated team Chuuk, 88-76, in the men’s open division after four quarters of intense basketball action.

After eight minutes of play in the first quarter, team Guam found themselves in the lead, 20-11, after numerous trips to the charity stripe. The Guam big men, Maksever Kepwe and Michael Sakazaki, were relentless in the inside where team Chuuk could not contest their big height advantage. Although team Guam was much taller, team Chuuk did not back down as they continued to take the ball to the basket to make hard-fought layups or get fouled in their attempts. Team Chuuk’s Sam Setik, one of the smallest players on the court, got the crowd “oohing” after he blocked a midrange shot attempt by Sakazaki. Team Chuuk finally began to get into rhythm and were able to close the gap, 25-21, at the end of the first quarter.

Chuuk’s Gino Soulik powers his way through Guam’s Jarred Meno to sccore the hard-fought layup. (photo by Errol Alegre, Jr.)

Team Chuuk came out supercharged on both ends of the court to start the second quarter. Behind multiple key drives by Setik, and teammate Gino Soulik, along with a stellar defensive stretch from the entire team, Chuuk was able to ride on a 10-0 run to put them up, 31-25, with just four minutes left in the half. Team Guam’s cold streak was broken when Lance Gogue went two-for-two from the charity stripe and was followed by a variety of layups from teammates Sakazaki, Valiant Borja, and Sammy Setik, the other Setik sibling. Guam was able to regain the lead with 15 seconds left, but it wasn’t enough; following a fast break layup by Sam Setik, Chuuk’s Soulik sunk two straight three-pointers, the last being a buzzer beater, to put Chuuk up 41-37 at the end of the half.

Soulik and Setik led all scorers at the half with 18 and 16 points, respectively. Guam showed a well-balanced performance from their starters and bench being that 11 of their 12 players put up their own points, Sakazaki and Jarred Meno led the team with five apiece.

Team Chuuk started the third quarter with the same intensity as the they did the second; after a layup and free throw by Chuuk’s Joe Ruppen, Sam Setik went on a scoring frenzy with a trey and three straight layups to guide Chuuk to a 12-0 run which gave them their biggest lead of the game at 53-37. Team Guam was able to take back the lead after Christian Payumo tied the game at 57 off a short jumper followed by two made technical free throws from Joshua Sebastian, putting the score at 59-57 at the end of the third.

Guam’s Sammy Setik uses his quickness to get through three Chuuk defenders to score the layup. (photo by Errol Alegre, Jr.)

Guam was able to hold off Chuuk, not allowing them to regain the lead and eventually giving them their second straight loss in the tournament. The Guam Junior National Team now improves to 2-1 while Chuuk falls to 0-2.

Mike Sakazaki led team Guam with 25 points while teammate Sammy Setik chipped in 12. In the losing effort, Chuuk’s Sam Setik led all scorers with 28 points followed by Gino Soulik who had 27.

 

 

In other games:

Men’s Division

Marshall Islands def.Chuuk 95-59

Marshall Islands def. Pohnpei 101-85

Guam def. Palau 95-75

Women’s Division

Guam Senior National def. Guam Junior National 60-25

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