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ISLANDERS’ COACH SERAFICO FOCUSED ON TITLE

JFK Islanders head coach Rey Serafico has the boys playing at a high level this season and they are on pace for a great run at a championship.

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By Robert Balajadia

The JFK Islanders are the hottest team in the IIAAG boys basketball league behind a great cast of players and a coach that has managed to make it all work.

Islanders coach Rey Serafico has the boys winning and on pace for a terrific run at a championship. Their only loss came in their second game of the season against the Okkodo Bulldogs in a down-to-the-wire game that featured a Bulldog comeback to win 51-48. To many, it felt like a championship game.

Boys Basketball STANDINGS“I told them the loss against Okkodo will test our character. It was a tough loss, and a bad team would probably fold, but a good team would work and come back better. We’re still getting better as the season is coming along and they work hard ever single day,” said coach Serafico.

The Islanders stand 8-1 while riding a seven-game win streak.

Serafico is a first time coach at JFK in his 10-year tenure after coaching the Academy Cougars and Okkodo Bulldogs. The boys give a lot of credit to Serafico for their success this season and the players have bought in to what Serafico was selling since day one.

“I made these guys believe what we were doing from the start is going to take us over the hump. The Islanders for the past years has had a lot of talent, but could not seem to put it together. We focus on working on the little stuff and make sure we come out strong in practice and every game.”

Serafico has a great relationship with girls basketball coach legend Joe Taitano, who he learned a great deal from. Taitano can be seen on the sidelines of the Guam High Panthers this year, while Serafico takes over at JFK where Taitano built his legacy. After ending the Panthers 5-0 start, Serafico had nothing but respect for Taitano.

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JFK Islanders head coach Rey Serafico. (photo by Joey Blas)

“I respect coach Taitano and Borja and the way they’re coaching their boys. It’s healthy competition when we meet, the players are competing and so are the coaches. It’s more like praising each other rather than fighting.”

With the success the Islanders have had this season, being one of the league’s top dogs garner some type of pressure. Serafico counters the pressure and expectations put on him and instead challenges his players to respond, and so far, his players are responding.

“I put a lot of pressure on my players. I tell them we are either going to win a championship or it’s a bust.”

The Islanders are led by veteran players like guard Kurtis Silva and forward Ricky Pak, and also have a couple of young sophomores who have a promising future in swingman Billy Belger and Aljurrell Grape. With all the talent on the roster, chemistry was never a problem with each other or with coach Serafico.

“They developed chemistry from the start. What I want done, they get it. I tell them sometimes adversity will get you guys and it all depends how you respond to it. It displayed in our game against Guam High when we were down and came back to win it.”

With less than half of the season left to go, the Islanders are going to get behind Serafico with high hopes to bring the championship trophy back to JFK after it has eluded them for quite some time.

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COMING SOON …

  • IIAAG & ISA Championships
  • YOUTH FOOTBALL LEAGUE KICKOFF June 4
  • GSPN Boys Volleyball All-Star Game
  • Pacific Mini-Games in Saipan

QUICK HITS

Sisters CiMara-Lei (10th) and CiHara-Lei (9th) Wessling both made the Academic All-District Team playing for Veterans Memorial High softball team in Converse, TX.
They are the daughters of former star quarterback and pitcher Chris ‘Cool Breeze’ Wessling and wife Missy.
CiMara-Lei was also named the league’s Newcomer of the Year after the family moved from Dallas to San Antonio.
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Austia Mendiola made it to the California state pairs finals in collegiate beach volleyball before losing to Monterey Peninsula.
Playing for San Diego Mesa College, Mendiola and her partner made it to the finals out of 32 top women’s college teams in the state.

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