GSPN PRE-SEASON TOURNEY FULL SWING

GSPN PRE-SEASON TOURNEY FULL SWING

📅06 January 2015
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By Robert Balajadia

This Thursday evening, the first big sporting event of 2015 will officially tip off in the GSPN Boys Basketball Pre-Season Tournament, which is set to go down at the FD Jungle. The tournament will run from the January 8th-16th with the finals set to be broadcast on live television on Docomo Pacific Channel 2.

The tournament will feature 11 of the 12 competing high schools with the Southern Dolphins being the only school who opted out.

Tournament admission price is $3 for adults and $1 for students during the evening weeknight games. The weekend is packed full of games all day and the price will be $5 for adults and $3 for students, which covers the entire day so spectators will be allowed to come and go as they please.

Highlighting the opening ceremony for the games will be Guam’s Mt. Rushmore of Basketball, which includes Tony Susuico, Joey Gogue, Joe Taitano and Chris Fernandez. The official jump ball will be conducted by legendary Oceanview coach Felipe Candaso, head coach of the only Guam Far East (Div I) champions.

On the last day of the GSPN Pre-Season Basketball Tournament, some of the best three-point shooters to ever let it fly behind Guam’s basketball arches will compete in a “Legends 3-point Shootout” during the halftime of the championship game.

The All Island 1st team selections will feature a bunch of new faces in 2015 with JFK Islanders Billy Belger and St. Paul Warriors John San Anders the only returnee of the bunch. Who’s going to make it to the All-Tournament team in the GSPN tournament? Get familiar with the boys starting Thursday!

The Tournament will feature three pools with these different divisions.

POOL A: The North Waters – JFK , Sanchez, GW

POOL B: Coast-to-Coast Sun – Okkodo, FD, ND

POOL C: Central Breeze – Guam High, St. Paul, Harvest, St. John’s, Tiyan

POOL A: The North Waters

JFK ISLANDERS
Head Coach: Rey Serafico (2nd Year) (won title with Okkodo in 2010)
Best of 2014: Consolation Game Loss (4th place)

The JFK Islanders were running wild in 2014 but were dealt a heartbreaking exit in the semifinals by the eventual champion FD Friars in triple overtime fashion. Losing the 2014 MVP in Kurtis Silva to graduation was a big blow, but the young scorers in Billy Belger and Aljurell Grape are ready to take over in their now junior year. Senior Ricky Pak will be the leader of the team after coming off a nice showing, along with Belger, at the FIBA U19 games in Fiji. After a strong 2014 campaign, the Islanders aren’t looking to slide into the underdog role, they’re title hungry!

Islanders’ Aljurrel Grape drove up the lane and through the Warriors’ defense in an attempt for two. (GSPN file photo)

Islanders’ Aljurrel Grape will be one of the Islanders go-to guys this eason. (GSPN file photo)

SANCHEZ SHARKS
Head Coach: Jin Han (8th Year)
Best of 2014: Quarterfinals Loss (7th Place)

2014 was a roller coaster ride for the Sharks after falling into a losing record, their first in recent years. Their leading scorer John Buan is back and ready to fill up the Sharks box scores again, but the supporting cast has improved since last year’s rebuilding process. The small victories of 2014 could easily turn into statement wins for the Sharks with coach Jin Han controlling the tide. It’s sink or swim for Sanchez in 2015, but it’s a good thing they live for the water.

Sharks’ John Buan went straight into the paint and tries for two. (photo by Jesse Castro)

Sharks’ John Buan is aiming to bump up his All-Island 2nd Team selection this year, along with the Sharks overall record.. (GSPN file photo)

GW GECKOS
HEAD COACH: Lawrence Luces (14 years)
Best of 2014: 8th Place (Quarterfinal Loss)

Since winning the boys title in 2012, the GW Geckos have been struggling to get back into title contention. With a wealth of new talent still developing, like twin towers Ethan and Eric Alegre, and All-Island 2nd team returnee Josh McCarrell, the Geckos are preparing for a strong run in the coming years. Coach Luces will figure out a lot about his team through the GSPN tourney, but don’t think they’re content with just moral victories, GW wants to win!

Geckos’ Josh McCarrel attempts a three point shot over Warriors’ John San Andres. (photo by Jesse Castro)

Geckos’ Josh McCarrell will lead the Geckos in 2015. (GSPN file photo)

POOL B: The Coast-to-Coast Sun

FD FRIARS
Head Coach: Eddie Pelkey (3rd year)
Best of 2014: IIAAG Basketball Champs (1st place)

The FD Friars know they have the biggest targets on their back, but they could also have one of their most talented rosters to date. Losing point guard Bruce Merrill was big for the Friars, especially with a bunch of new faces suiting up for the first time together. Veterans Tristan Jose, Justin Dimla and David Sakazaki all participated in the U19 Fiji games and each of them have upped their game since returning to the team. Last year, the FD Friars were heavy underdogs all playoffs long, but it’s safe to say no one is considering FD an underdog this year. To add, they have Guam High transfers Juan and Jujuan King to boot. Defending a title is always harder than winning your first one, but it’s scary to believe the Friars are better in 2015 than their 2014 title year.

A passionate Coach Eddie Pelkey talking to his team during the break between first and second period. (photo by Jesse Castro)

Head coach Eddie Pelkey won’t let the boys perform any less than his 2014 title winning team. (photo by Jesse Castro)

OKKODO BULLDOGS
Head Coach: Ian Inocencio (2nd Year)
Best of 2014: Champion Game Loss (2nd place)

The Bulldogs were just points away from winning their second straight basketball title before falling in overtime to the Friars. Forward Jeddou Antonio has graduated and Big Ben Borja has relocated to Oregon which leaves big shoes (pun intended) for the Bulldogs to fill. Internet sensation Vern Gustilo was a key for the Bulldogs bench, but Okkodo will need him to now lead the squad after making the cut for the U19 Fiji team. Just don’t expect to see much of #TheVern this season, by now defenders probably know to look out  for Gustilo’s branded defense. The Bulldogs have a well established program, so it’s hard to believe they’re not going to have another successful year.

Coach Ian Innocencio in a time out with the Bulldogs with seconds left on the clock. (photo by Jesse Castro)

Bulldogs coach Ian Inocencio wasn’t content with 2nd place last year, he and Bulldogs are ready for 2015. (photo by Jesse Castro)

Notre Dame ROYALS
Head Coach: Harold Cruz (1st year)
Best of 2014: 9th place (No Playoffs)

The ND boys weren’t exactly shining in the 2014 with their most prominent basketball success coming from the girls team behind Destiny Castro. ND is in a tough pool with the top two seeds from last year, but the pre-season games will allow the Royals to find themselves. First time head coach Harold Cruz has his work cut out for him as ND looks to improve from last years three-win season. Look for Hance Barcinas and top motorcross rider JR Cepeda to spark the Royals.

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The ND Royals will try to hang with the other top teams all season long under first year head coach Harold Cruz.

POOL C: The Central Breeze

GUAM HIGH PANTHERS
Head Coach: Ben Leon Gurrerro (3rd Year)
Best of 2014: Consolation Game Winner (3rd place)

Winning the consolation game in 2014 was a big step for the Panthers basketball program, but losing players like Austy Hines, LJ Aguon and the King brothers to FD already make 2015 a tough year. The lineup for the Panthers this year will look a lot different from last year after also losing key players Michael Stewart and Eddie Garza. New doesn’t necessarily mean bad, and the Panthers are aiming for new heights this season, regardless of who’s on the roster.

Panthers’ Levis Harris tried for two inside the lane. (photo by Jesse Castro)

Panthers’ Lewis Harris will have the weight of the team on his shoulders being one key returnee. (GSPN file photo)

ST. PAUL WARRIORS
Head Coach: Neil Pineda (2000-07; 1st year back)
Best of 2014: Quarterfinals Loss (5th Place)

The Warriors were the first victims to get swept away by the upstart Friars in the 2014 playoffs after finishing the regular season as one of the league’s top dogs. Losing All-Island 1st team guard Jason Aquino is a tough replacement for the Warriors, though they still have center John San Andres and St. Paul is a well known basketball school who are always in the conversation of the league’s best. Another key returnee is head coach Neil Pineda, who passed the baton to his brother Paul for the past few years.

Warriors’ John San Andres towering over Friars’ David Sakazaki as he takes a shot at the basket. (photo by Jesse Castro)

Warriors’ John San Andres had a big 2014, but the big man will need to have a bigger 2015 to carry the Warriors this season. (photo by Jesse Castro)

ST. JOHN’S KNIGHTS
Head Coach: Fred Peters (20th year)
Best of 2014: 11th Place (no playoffs)

From a 2013 2nd place finish to the bottom in 2014, the Knights fell the hardest in a one-year span. With Argie Flores and Reed Meyer both moving on, the Knights found themselves in a rut last season, but things are already looking brighter in 2015. Sports journalist Jay Leon Guerrero calls the Knights’ newest members “The Fab Five”, led by freshman Michael Min. The Knights incoming freshman class does have a lot of talent, but team veterans like Arvin Flores are going to be vital for a successful 2015. The Knights are anticipating a big learning curve regarding their young guns, but only court time will tell.

Knights’ Michael Min maintains control of the ball and dribbles the base line to run the clock down. (photo by Jesse Castro)

Knights’ Michael Min’s transition from middle school to high school will be exciting to see. (photo by Jesse Castro)

HARVEST EAGLES
Head Coach: Stephen Yates (1st year)
Best of 2014: 10th Place (no playoffs)

Harvest is hoping for bigger takeaways in 2015 behind U19 team member Kobe Sotello and the flock. The Eagles may be better than last year, but the bad news for them is that so is everyone else. The Harvest varsity team already got off to a 1-0 season start after beating the Harvest Alumni in a friendly Friday night game last weekend.

The Harvest Eagles varsity squad beat the alumni, making their 2015 record a nice 1-0. (courtesy photo)

The Harvest Eagles varsity squad beat the alumni, making their 2015 record a nice 1-0. (courtesy photo)

TIYAN TITANS
Head Coach: Cy Concepcion (1st year)
Best of 2014: New Comers

Being the new school on the block will come with its early struggles, though the Titans could easily look back at the Bulldogs story on how they were built into champions after just two years. The Tiyan basketball program will make their first basketball debut in 2015, and even if the tournament and regular season aren’t stacked with wins, these group of guys will always go down as the first ever to lace it up for the Titans, which is still pretty darn special. If the excitement of Coach Concepcion is any indicator of how the Titans will do, it’s nothing but hard work and production.

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