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ASAN RAI KINGS OF GYBA U18 DIVISION

The Asan Rai lived up to their name and were crowned kings of the 2015 GYBA Drug Free Basketball league in the boy’s 18-and-under division Monday night at the Guam Sports Complex. The Rai defeated the Barrigada Crusaders 63-45 in the U18 division thanks to a huge third quarter.

By Jay Leon Guerrero

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Jan Pineda of Asan Rai flies in for a layup through the teeth of the Crusaders defense. (photo by Kyle Twardowski)

The Asan Rai lived up to their name and were crowned kings of the 2015 GYBA Drug Free Basketball league in the boy’s 18-and-under division Monday night at the Guam Sports Complex. The Rai defeated the Barrigada Crusaders 63-45 in the U18 division thanks to a huge third quarter.

The Crusaders went up early with Cole Merfalen cleaning up the paint. Merfalen scored eight quick points, six of which came from offensive rebounds for put backs. Devin San Agustin and Kobe Sotelo also contributed early as the upset-minded Crusaders led 16-11.

The Crusaders did all the right things in the first half, but could not pull ahead with a big lead due to poor foul shooting from the charity stripe. The Crusaders shot a dismal 1-12 from the line to start the game in the first half which kept the Rai in the game.

The Rai finally found momentum in third quarter. Billy Belger played quarterback, dishing out four third quarter assists. Belger found Chris Conner twice, once for a three-pointer and again in the paint to go 25-23.

Jaron Weilbacher ballooned the Rai’s lead with a lay-in which was followed by a short jumper by Wayne Jesus.

RJ Rokop from the Crusaders ignited a fourth quarter comeback with a three-pointer, but Conner negated his three-pointer with a breakaway dunk to push the lead back to double -digits.

Jesus led the Rai in scoring with 19 points, but credits good second half defense for the victory.

“We made adjustments in the second half and decided to play harder ‘D’ because defense always wins games. We wanted to slow down their scorers so we get more chances to score,” said Jesus. Jesus and the Rai played full court man defense to start the second half which led to four early Crusader turnovers.

Jesus said the Crusaders started the game really well and they have great potential to win future championships in this division. The entire Crusader roster will have returnees for next season with all their players aged 17 and below.

“They came ready to play, especially in Cole Merfalen, he went off tonight,” said Jesus. Merfalen went 5-for-7 from the field to lead the Crusaders offensively with 12 points and 9 rebounds. San Agustin had 9 points and 10 boards while Rokop scored 8 for the Crusaders.

GSPN player of the game Asan Rai's Chris Connor

GSPN player of the game Asan Rai’s Chris Conner

Conner, who was vital in the second half for the Rai, scored 16 points, grabbed 6 rebounds, 3 steals and had 1 highlight dunk. Belger dished out 6 assists and Jan Pineda scored 9 points.

Other games

In the girls U18 championship game, the Barrigada Crusaders defeated the Central Mavericks 25-20. Destiny Castro hit two 3-pointers to secure the victory in the 4th quarter. Castro scored 11 points to lead the Crusaders.

Mia San Nicolas led all scorers with 14 points. Despite the loss, the Mavericks were all smiles knowing they competed really well with a team composed of all members aged 15 and under.

The closest championship game of the evening was the opening game in the boys 16-and-under division. The underdog Warriors won a 39-38 thriller against the Sharks club to steal the title, much to the delight of their fans.

Down by two points with 10 seconds left in regulation, the Warriors had possession and looked for an open shot. Jason Diaz had the ball behind the arc and faked a shot which got two Shark players off their feet for the block attempt.

After the Shark defenders flew by Diaz, he hoisted up a shot that found the bottom of the net with 3 seconds remaining. The Sharks had an opportunity with three ticks left but were unable to convert. Diaz scored 18 points to the Warriors, Aaron Castro scored 13 points for the Sharks.

PHOTO GALLERY:

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The 2nd place Crusaders fought hard to make a game out of their championship against the Asan Rai. (photo by Jay Leon Guerrero)

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The Barrigada Crusaders took top honors in the 18U division after defeating the Central Mavericks. (photo by Jay Leon Gurrero)

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Nathaniel Gaitan flies in for two points on the fast break. (photo by Kyle Twardowski)

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Asan Rai’s Leo Diaz fights through contact on the way to the rim. (photo by Kyle Twardowski)

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Rai’s Josh McCarrel gets creates contact on his way to the rim. (photo by Kyle Twardowski)

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Kyle Barcial goes around the defense of Asan Rai’s Jaron Weilbacher. (photo by Kyle Twardowski)

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