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YOUNG BULLDOGS SHINE OVER PANTHERS

Led by pair of sensational sophomores in big man Ben Borja and fleet-footed guard Vernave Gustilo, the Okkodo Bulldogs captured a hard-fought win over the Guam High Panthers giving the Panthers their third straight loss after starting out 5-0.

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By Kolby Chang

Led by a pair of sensational sophomores in big man Ben Borja and fleet-footed guard Vernave Gustilo, the Okkodo Bulldogs captured a hard-fought 73-67 win over the Guam High Panthers in the IIAAG Boys’ Basketball League on Tuesday night at the Okkodo gym. Borja and Gustilo worked a potent inside-out game that held off the Panthers in the final minutes of the game. The Panthers suffer their third-striaght loss after starting out the season 5-0.

“Coach said keep on driving it in. You don’t play to lose, you play to win so you just got to keep attacking,” Gustilo said.

Boys Basketball STANDINGSIt was that aggressive mindset that helped the Bulldogs gut out a win over a tough Panthers squad. With the scored tied at 63 midway through the fourth quarter, it was either team’s game. Eddie Garza’s jumper from the left corner pulled the Panthers in front 65-63 but the Bulldogs’ Christian Acosta answered with a headfirst drive to the hoop plus the foul that knotted it at 65.

Gustilo then blew past his defender and maneuvered his way amongst a sea of outstretched arms for a layup to put the home team up by two points. The Panthers’ Lewis Harris was fouled on the next play and the team captain split his free throws to make it 67-66. The Bulldogs then raced the ball up the court and handed it off to Gustilo. With the defense zoning in on Gustilo around the top of three point line, he took three quick dribbles, went straight to the hoop and dropped a dime to a cutting Borja for the layup right underneath the bucket.

The Bulldogs did the same thing on the next play as Gustilo got the ball from the right side of the key. This time the Panthers help defense stuck to Borja, which allowed Gustilo to find an open lane for another layup to extend the lead to 71-66. The Panthers knocked in a free throw and with less than 30 seconds to go in the game to cut the lead down to five.

Okkodo Vernave Gustilo makes a nice move around a defender and lays it in for 2 points. (photo by Joey Blas)

Okkodo Vernave Gustilo makes a nice move around a defender and lays it in for 2 points. (photo by Joey Blas)

Gustilo responded by making his last foray into the paint but was fouled on the drive. He got up, calmly sank both free throws that sealed the victory in an exciting back-and-forth battle. ‘We focus on one game at time. Our main game is the one that’s coming up,’ Gustilo said.

The six-point margin of victory was the biggest point differential of the game as neither team could completely break free. The Bulldogs even found themselves down by one point going into the second half but back-to-back Panther turnovers in the opening minute of third quarter resulted in two straight fast break layups for Karl Melencio that put the home team up 30-29. Even after a big 12-4 run that was capped by Melencio’s putback, the Bulldogs were only ahead 38-34.

The Panthers showed off some nice shooting as Austin Hines and LJ Aguon buried triples late in the third quarter. Hines also had a couple of strong drives with about a minute left that got him to the free throw line where he put the visitors up 53-54 going into the final quarter.

Borja finished the game with an impressive 16 points, 13 rebounds and eight blocks. Gustilo lead his team with 13 points, while Melencio and Garren Reyes each scored 12 points apiece. Shaun Bulala chipped in 11 points for the Bulldogs who improved their record to 7-1.

Hines had a game-high 18 points for the Panthers and Aguon finished with 16 points. Harris added 15 points along with 13 rebounds and Garza scored 10 points.

In the junior varsity game, the Panthers came out on top 54-51.

Other Scores

JFK 63, FD 56 – (JFK) Kurtis Silva 20 pts., (JFK) Billy Belger 14 pts., (FD) Bruce Merrill 16 pts.
Southern 51, Sanchez 47 – (SHS) Dom Afaisen 17 pts., (SSHS) John Buan 12 pts.
GW 73, St. John’s 50
St. Paul 66, ND 36

PHOTO GALLERY :

Okkodo's Karl Melencio denies a shot against Guam High. (photo by Joey Blas)

Okkodo’s Karl Melencio denies a shot against Guam High. (photo by Joey Blas)

Guam High's Stewart Michael dribbles down the sideline and makes the bucket. (photo by Joey Blas)

Guam High’s Stewart Michael dribbles down the sideline and makes the bucket. (photo by Joey Blas)

Guam High's Eddie Garza shoots over Okkodo Vernave Gustilo. (photo by Joey Blas)

Guam High’s Eddie Garza shoots over Okkodo Vernave Gustilo. (photo by Joey Blas)

Okkodo's Ben Borja goes up and blocks a shot against Guam High. (photo by Joey Blas)

Okkodo’s Ben Borja goes up and blocks a shot against Guam High. (photo by Joey Blas)

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