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IIAAG BOYS BASKETBALL PLAYOFF PREVIEW

GSPN’s Jay Leon Guerrero gets you ready for the 2017 boys basketball playoffs.

By Jay Leon Guerrero

2012- GW
2013 – Okkodo
2014 – FD
2015 – JFK
2016 – JFK
2017 – ??

Which team will win it all this year?

Fasten your seatbelt basketball fans, the IIAAG Boys Basketball playoffs tip off with four games scheduled Tuesday night in the single elimination format. The top four seeds (St Paul Warriors, FD Friars, Sanchez Sharks and Guam High Panthers) all clinched first round byes and home court advantage for the quarterfinals. The 5th-12th seeds will battle it out tomorrow in a win-or-go home format. The first round games will be played at 6pm (No JV Games) at the following locations:

ND Royals (0-11) at St John’s Knights (7-4)
Southern Dolphins (2-9) at GW Geckos (5-6)
Tiyan Titans (3-8) at JFK Islanders (5-6)
Okkodo Bulldogs (4-7) at Harvest Eagles (4-7)

This season had many surprises, but the championship is still up for grabs. JFK is the two-time defending champion, but they are not favored heading into the playoffs. The St Paul Warriors are the clear cut team to beat with an undefeated record and they look to make history and win the title for their school. Here is a brief breakdown:

St Paul Warriors (11-0)

Head coach Neo Pineda guided his squad to an unblemished record in the regular season. The teams motto is defense and discipline and they demonstrate both in every game. The Warriors play year round and go on more overseas trips than any other team in the league. The extra playing time together helped them develop the best chemistry in the league on both sides of the court. The full court trap and pressure defense usually lead to uncontested lay-up for the Warriors.

Jason Diaz won the IIAAG MVP award last week and he will lead the team in the playoffs. Guards D’Angelo Gallardo and Jahmar White are one of the best back courts in the league and the will also provide offense for the Warriors as they go for the title.

FD Friars (9-2)

The Friars looked shaky to open up the season, but won their last seven games of the season to finished second in the league. Just before the season began, starter Mark Temerowski suffered a knee injury that ended his season. This was a big blow for the Friars but they adjusted and played well once February hit. The Friars, led by head coach Eddie Pelkey, are the biggest team in the league and have out-rebounded every opponent. Forward Kyle Gaitan is a walking double-double and De’Aundre Cruz bullies his way in the post which causes havoc to the opposition. JT Fegurgur and Leon Shimizu also add size to the FD front court while guard Tomas Calvo calls the plays at point guard.

Sanchez Sharks (8-3)

After the Sharks lost John Buan to graduation, many critics said they won’t have a shot in 2017. Wrong! The Sharks are up in the rankings once again and have a good shot of getting back to the championship game. With the guidance of head coach Jin Han, the Sharks have the best defense in the league allowing just 39 points per game. Anthony Castro, GSPN’s pick for MVP, has been very consistent this season and he will lead the Sharks along with twin brother Aaron and forward JB Obra in the playoffs.

Guam High Panthers (8-3)

Joe Taitano’s Guam High Panthers have a very good shot at winning the championship this season. Juan King Jr. is one of the best scorers in the league, RJ Kranz is a versatile big man who can shoot the 3, DJ Williams has size at point and Khalid Volious is one of the best rebounders in the league. They cover all the pieces to the puzzle but they also have the toughest road to the championship. The Panthers will have a likely quarterfinal match up with St John’s (if they beat ND). If they should win that game, they would likely face the Warriors (again, if they beat the Okkodo vs Harvest winner). They are capable of defeating both teams and will have a ton of confidence going to the championship game next month.

Playoff sleepers

The Knights looked unstoppable before the season started, winning the GSPN pre-season tournament. After winning the pre-season tournament, just as the GW Geckos did in 2016, they were upset in the beginning of the season. But they have since recovered and they are a very dangerous fifth seed heading into the playoffs with a back court of Michael Min and Takumi Simon leading the way.

The Okkodo Bulldogs dropped their first six games of the season, then went on a four game winning streak. They lost some nail biters early in the season to top teams and they are a sleeper heading into the playoffs led by head coach Desmond Mandell III. Okkodo held a lead in their games against St Paul and FD so don’t be fooled by their 4-7 record. The Okkodo vs Harvest game will highlight two of the leagues’ top scorers in Shannon Enriquez (Okkodo) and Kobe Sotelo (Harvest). Sotelo led the league in scoring (21.09 ppg) and he is looking to bring Harvest deep into the playoff rounds in his final year of high school ball.

The JFK Islanders, the two-time defending champion, will need to climb a mountain to get back to the championship game but anything is possible under the leadership of head coach Rey Serafico. Last season’s MVP Chris Conner and sharp shooter Billy Belger are gone, but the Islanders still have scorer Alschea Grape and improved big man Jonah Hahn. Should the Islanders get by the Titans in the first round, they will face FD in the second round. The Geckos have talent on their squad, but lost some key players due to season suspension (fight vs St Paul). They finish as the sixth seed and will rely heavily on scorer Ken Brozo to lead the way. Brozo is averaging 17.36 points per game this season.

The Tiyan Titans, Southern Dolphins and ND Royals round out the bottom three teams in the league. The odds are against them but they each have talent on their teams. Tiyan’s Last Made and Johnsey Hagel, Southern’s Phil Jardeleza and Gilbert Hollingsworth, and ND’s Holden Barcinas and Gaven Leon Guerrero are all playmakers.

Remember fans, all first round and quarterfinal playoff games start at 6pm at the higher seed’s home court. Let the game begin and may the best team win!

IIAAG top scorers for 2017:

Kobe Sotelo, Harvest – 21.09 ppg
Michael Min, St John’s – 19.45 ppg
Shannon Enriquez, Okkodo – 18.09 ppg
Ken Brozo, GW – 17.36 ppg
Takumi Simon, St John’s – 17.0 ppg
Juan King Jr., Guam High – 16.54 ppg
RJ Kranz, Guam High – 15.45 ppg
Anthony Castro, Sanchez – 15.0 ppg
Kyle Gaitan, FD – 15.0 ppg
D’Angelo Gallardo, St Paul – 14.0 ppg
Athan Arizanga, Okkodo – 13.9 ppg
Jahmar Whie, St Paul – 13.9 ppg
D’Angelo Gallardo, St Paul – 13.5 ppg
De’Aundre Cruz, FD – 13.3 ppg
Alschea Grape, JFK – 13.0 ppg
Fabrick Ramos, GW – 12.57 ppg
Tony Hsieh, St John’s- 12.36 ppg
Tomas Calvo, FD – 12.09 ppg
Phil Jardelleza, Southern – 11.6 ppg
Jason Diaz, St Paul – 11.4 ppg
Last Made, Tiyan – 11.09 ppg

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QUICK HITS

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Guam’s Joey Miranda met up with Chamorrita Softball Star Bubba Nickles and Olympic Teammates Dejah Mulipola and Aubree Munro out in Tokyo as we approach the Olympics!

Photo credit: GNOC

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Former Guam resident Tre Taylor has committed to play cornerback for the Southwestern Junior College Jags.
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