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GUAM U19 TAKING COMMAND

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By Robert Balajadia

Michael Sakazaki led the Guam Men's team with 23 points in a big win over Team CNMI. (photo by Jose Perez)

Michael Sakazaki led the Guam Men’s team with 23 points in a big win over Team CNMI. (photo by Jose Perez)

The Guam U19 Men’s basketball team had a rough start against the CNMI but a big scoring third quarter from center Michael Sakazaki gave Guam a much needed push to defeat Team CNMI 78-57 in the second day of the 2013 Micronesia Basketball Tournament.

Sakazaki scored 11 of his game high 23 points in the third quarter that gave Guam a commanding 56-40 lead after leading by just eight at halftime, 35-27.

“We are at home and it’s not only our schools, family and friends we’re representing but also our Island.  CNMI is a great team and they came our ready to play and at halftime we needed to buckle down and just take it one defensive stop at a time,” stated the former FD Friars big man.

Sakazaki went on to score nine points in the fourth quarter to help Guam close out a gritty CNMI team.

Guam also flipped the defensive switch in the third quarter, forcing three straight turnovers that resulted in a 16-4 run that gave them their first 20-point lead of the game at 51-31.  Guards Aaron Blaz and Sammy Setik got their hands in the passing lanes which made it difficult for the CNMI  ball handlers to move the ball around.

CNMI's Erik Dela Rosa making a base line attempt for the easy bucket. (photo by Jose Perez)

CNMI’s Erik Dela Rosa making a base line attempt for the easy bucket. (photo by Jose Perez)

The first quarter was full of turnovers for both teams as each side struggled to score, accumulating just 17 each.  Guam’s Ricky Pak came in off the bench for back-to-back buckets to give Guam the slight lead late in the quarter but Marc Babauta and Chris Mizer helped CNMI tie guam after the first quarter.

CNMI took their first and only lead in the second quarter off a layup from Mizer but a layup by Rashaun Blas and a three-pointer by Setik gave Guam back the 24-23 lead that they managed to keep throughout the game.

Babauta led CNMI with 17 points while Blaz chipped in 12 points for Guam in the win.

Though Guam won big for the second straight game Sakazaki gave insight on what head coach Brent Tipton wants to see the boys do better.

“We need to come out with more mental intensity and treat the game like it’s on the line, no matter what.  We’re not trying to run up the score it’s more defensive in that we should be limiting their scoring.”

Guam U19 will play Guam U16 Tuesday night not only being the first time both Guam teams meet, but also a showdown between U19’s Michael Sakazki and younger brother U16’s David Sakazaki.

U19 Guam 77, U16 Guam 22

Alina Bonto scored a game high 20 points, outscoring the U16 Guam Women’s team single-handedly through three quarters, to lead the U19 team in the big win.  The U16 team had a rough second quarter scoring just two points after scoring 12 in the first quarter.  Bonto hit 18 points in the third quarter with the U16 team having just 16 points total.

Humbled by her dominant performance, Bonto stated “Our team just pushed the ball really well and our defense was really good today and we always gave the ball ahead to the open player.”

This is the second straight loss for the U16 Guam Team but Bonto believes they can perform much better. “They just need to play more together more.  I’m playing with some of the girls I’ve played with in high school so the chemistry is there, [U16 Guam] just needs that experience.”

Destiny Castro added 12 points for the U19 Women’s team as well.

TOURNAMENT RECAPS: 

Day One

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