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VRM PANTHERS WIN ISA BASKETBALL LEAGUE

The Island Sports Association (ISA) completed its 1st Annual Fun and Fitness Basketball League with the VRM Panthers coming from behind to win the championship over the Senator Rodriguez Warriors 63-54 Sunday afternoon at the Yigo Gym.

By Jay Leon Guerrero

The Island Sports Association (ISA) completed its 1st Annual Fun and Fitness Basketball League with the VRM Panthers coming from behind to win the championship over the Senator Rodriguez Warriors 63-54 Sunday afternoon at the Yigo Gym.

The Panther veterans were key to their comeback after they trailed by as much as 17 points in the first half. Clarence Lagutang won the game MVP after he helped his team complete the victory with his defense and accurate (3-4) shooting from beyond the arc.
The Warriors led the entire first half, opening up a 26-11 lead. Russell Manabat led the offense early for the Warriors making back-to-back 3-pointers against the Panther 2-3 zone.

Jun Navarro was the quarterback for the Warriors dishing out four early assists to establish the tempo of the game.

The Panthers’ younger players, Dezdin Fikes and Christian Chang, helped the Panthers claw out of their deficit sparking a 9-2 run to trail 28-20. Fikes hit a three-pointer and a mid range jumper while Chang hit free throws and a reverse lay-up during the run.

After a Warriors timeout, Lloyd Macapagal swished two three-pointers for the Warriors to take back momentum and a 17 point lead.

The Panthers got a boost from Chang just before halftime after he made the “and-1” lay-in, converted two free throws and got a buzzer beating tip-in to bring life back to the Panther bench to trail just 34-30 by halftime.

The Warriors, who made 10-out-of-20 three pointers, remained hot from 3-point land to open the second with a 44-34 advantage. Dean Nilo had the hot hand to start up the second half for the Warriors as they forced an early time out from the Panthers, opening up a double-digit lead.

Lagutang sparks comeback

Panthers' Clarence Lagutang shoots one of his threes that helped close the point gap between his team and team Sen. Rod.

Panthers’ Clarence Lagutang shoots one of his threes that helped close the point gap between his team and team Sen. Rod.

Lagutang made two free throws, two three-pointers and an “and-1” lay-in to shock the Warriors for the 50-48 lead.

Joe Javellana, who came off the bench for the Panthers to relieve Lagutang, finished what his teammate started with a three-pointer from the top of the key to extend their lead to 5 points. With 2:34 remaining, Jin Han leads the offense with two assists for easy bucket to open up an 8 point advantage. Han had a game high 10 assists for the game.

The Warriors’ Navarro called out his own number, twice, and made 2-of-2 three-point shots to cut the lead to a basket with 38 seconds remaining. The Warriors were forced to foul and Chang swished both free throws.

The Warriors were running out of time and had to put up a quick three-pointer on the ensuing possession but the attempt was too long as Fikes collected the rebound and found Jordan Javellana running the wing for a fast break lay-in to secure the championship.

Chang led all scorers with 19 points, 6 rebounds and 3 blocks. Lagutang had 18 points, 14 points were in the second half. Fikes, who played the entire game, recorded a double-double with 15 points and 11 boards.

Navarro led the Warriors with 14 points and 7 assists. Manabat and Nilo each scored 12 points for the Warriors.

“We trailed against big deficits like that before, we just focused on getting one stop at a time. We did a better job in the second half at switching and playing tighter defense,” said Lagutang.

“The Warriors are going to be a great team, their point guard (Navarro) is a great play maker and we tried our best to get the ball out of his hands to force others to make a play.”

League organizer Paul Alfred was pleased with the turnout of the inaugural league and he said he looks forward to next season. “We really want to thank the Yigo Mayor and the staff here at the Yigo gym,” said Alfred who presented a donation to the Yigo Mayor after the game.

Alfred said there are other sponsors to thank which include IP&E, Coast 360, Subway and McDonald’s Guam.

Players, family members and friends gathered after the game for an awards presentation and party food organized by the league.

PHOTO GALLERY:

Clarence Lagutang of the Panthers is given the MVP award. (photo by Dan Paran)

Clarence Lagutang of the Panthers is given the MVP award. (photo by Dan Paran)

Sen. Rod's Rickson David tries to steal the ball away from Panthers shooter, Clarence Lagutang. (photo by Dan Paran)

Sen. Rod’s Rickson David tries to steal the ball away from Panthers shooter, Clarence Lagutang. (photo by Dan Paran)

Dezdin Fikes forces his way to the basket for a lay up over Rickson David. (photo by Dan Paran)

Dezdin Fikes forces his way to the basket for a lay up over Rickson David. (photo by Dan Paran)

Christian Chang tries to slip past Sen. Rod's Will Davis to put one up for the Panthers. (photo by Dan Paran)

Christian Chang tries to slip past Sen. Rod’s Will Davis to put one up for the Panthers. (photo by Dan Paran)

Will Davis of team Sen. Rod attempts to lay one up over Panther defenders. (photo by Dan Paran)

Will Davis of team Sen. Rod attempts to lay one up over Panther defenders. (photo by Dan Paran)

Panthers applying the pressure as Sen. Rod's Jun Ravarro looks for an open teammate to pass. (photo by Dan Paran)

Panthers applying the pressure as Sen. Rod’s Jun Ravarro looks for an open teammate to pass. (photo by Dan Paran)

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