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ISLAND WOLVES GRIND OUT COMEBACK

The Island Wolves capped off the 4th of July weekend with a big win over the Sticky Bandits Sunday evening in the Annual Tamuning Summer Jam.

By Michael J.A. Nauta Jr.

It was a day full of hoops action at the Tamuning Gym as teams from different divisions battled one another in the Annual Summer Jam Tournament. In Men’s Varsity action, the Sticky Bandits took on the Island Wolves. Both teams were looking to cap the 4th of July weekend with a victory. Despite trailing most of the game, the Island Wolves remained poised and managed to bounce back and earned a hard fought 54-46 victory.

Guahan Solider player of the Game Joe Blas.

Guahan Soldier Player of the Game Joe Blas

“We played a very young squad compared to our group of guys and they kept us on our toes and we just had to keep on attacking on every opportunity,” said the Island Wolves’ Joe Blas. “Opportunities at the free-throw line arose for us and we needed to just knock them down.”

Heading into the second-half, the Wolves found themselves trailing their opponents (32-28) by four points. The small gap opened wider as the Bandits scored five unanswered points to start the period courtesy of Michael Sakazaki and Tyler Tanaka. The Wolves continued to work their way into the deficit and eventually made it a 40-37 game thanks to the free-throw shooting of Blas who sank six-straight from the charity stripe.

Joe Blas of the Island Wolves gets past Sticky Bandit defenders as he makes the basket. (Photo by Asha Marie Robles)

Joe Blas of the Island Wolves gets past Sticky Bandit defenders as he makes the basket. (Photo by Asha Marie Robles)

The Bandits called a much needed timeout hoping to stop the surging Wolves. However, after returning to the floor nothing got better for the Bandits as the Wolves went on a tear that eventually equalized the game at 44-44 after two more free-throws by Blas. Two possessions later, Blas failed to sink a layup but was fouled on the play that sent him to the line for his 16th and 17th free-throws of the game. After converting both shots, the Wolves regained their lead for only the second time in the game.

With less than a minute left in the game, the Sticky Bandits’ knotted the game at 46-46. However, it was all Wolves from that point on as the duo of Blas and teammate Jay Casimiro took matters into their own hands scoring eight unanswered points. When the final buzzer sounded, the scoreboard reflected a 54-46 score in favor of the Wolves.

“The final minutes of the game came down to converting at the free-throw line. If Jay (Casimiro) and I didn’t make our shots it could’ve been a different outcome,” said Blas.

Bandits hold lead for almost entire first half

At the start of the match, the Wolves were gifted a pair of technical foul shots due to a uniform violation by the Bandits. Shortly after Leonard Aguon made both, teammate Victory Sablan nailed a shot from downtown to give their team a 5-0 lead. However, the Sticky Bandits responded with a resounding 14 straight points. Jared Meno led the surge with nine points after finding the bottom of the net three-straight times from beyond the arc.

Sticky Bandits’ Jarred Meno controls the ball as an Island Wolves defender tries to intervene. (Photo by Asha Marie Robles)

Sticky Bandits’ Jarred Meno controls the ball as an Island Wolves defender tries to intervene. (Photo by Asha Marie Robles)

Things worsened for the Wolves as Meno and Sakazaki helped their team widened the gap to make it a 24-9 game. The Wolves managed to make it a game from midway through the opening period as Jesse Guevara and Casimiro combined for ten of their teams final 19 points of the half.

Blas led the Wolves offense going 15-for-19 from the free-throw line and 2-for-3 from the field for 19 points. In the losing effort, the Sticky Bandits were led by Meno’s game-high 21 points.

In the first Men’s Varsity match of the evening, the Tooth Fairies demolished Chow-Jitsu and picked-up the 98-60 victory. James Collins led the Tooth Fairies with 20 points, while Chow-Jitsu’s Ryan Nangauta led a scorers with 36 points.

PHOTO GALLERY:

Island Wolves' Joe Blas goes one on one with Jude Martinez of the Sticky Bandits. (Photo by Asha Marie Robles)

Island Wolves’ Joe Blas goes one on one with Jude Martinez of the Sticky Bandits. (Photo by Asha Marie Robles)

Micheal Sakazaki of the Sticky Bandits gets up high to put the ball in over an Island Wolves defender. (Photo by Asha Marie Robles)

Micheal Sakazaki of the Sticky Bandits gets up high to put the ball in over an Island Wolves defender. (Photo by Asha Marie Robles)

Christian Chang of the Sticky Bandits goes up for the layup. (Photo by Asha Marie Robles)

Christian Chang of the Sticky Bandits goes up for the layup. (Photo by Asha Marie Robles)

Players from both teams try to rebound the ball. (Photo by Asha Marie Robles)

Players from both teams try to rebound the ball. (Photo by Asha Marie Robles)

Christian Chang of the Sticky Bandits goes up for the layup. (Photo by Asha Marie Robles)

Christian Chang of the Sticky Bandits goes up for the layup. (Photo by Asha Marie Robles)

Sticky Bandits’ Tyler Tanaka takes the jump shot. (Photo by Asha Marie Robles)

Sticky Bandits’ Tyler Tanaka takes the jump shot. (Photo by Asha Marie Robles)

Jarred Meno of the Sticky Bandits blocks a pass from an Island Wolves player. (Photo by Asha Marie Robles)

Jarred Meno of the Sticky Bandits blocks a pass from an Island Wolves player. (Photo by Asha Marie Robles)

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