Sablan leads Inarajan Hawks to championship game to face the Sinajana Rockers Green in U12 championship

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U12 Inarajan Hawks with Coach Z Frank Taitague

Sinajana, Guam – Despite a cool and breezy Monday night, the atmosphere at the U12 semifinal game in the Sinajana Youth Basketball League between the Inarajan Hawks and Sinajana Rockers White proved scorching hot as the game came down to the wire.  With a championship berth at stake, the second-seeded Hawks and third-seeded Rockers White gave central and southern fans a game to remember.  After four quarters of hard-fought basketball, the Hawks stamped their ticket into Saturday’s championship game with a gutsy 23-21 win over a young and determined Rockers White squad.

At the opening tip, the Hawks gained control early by winning the jump ball and converting with big man Josaih Sablan making an easy two-point jump shot. Using their size to their advantage, the Hawks duo of John Paul Taimanglo and Sablan stuffed the inside penetration by the Rockers White and went on a fast break as Sablan converted another two-point jump shot. Sensing it was going to be long game, Rockers White’s coach Tim Paraliza called a timeout to strategize on how to deal with the twin towers from the south.

After the break, the Rockers White’s Kaden Apiag converts a contested layup in traffic cutting the Hawks lead to two.  The rest of the first half sees the Hawks continue to go with their bread-and-butter as they continue to feed Sablan the ball as he connects for 11 first-half points, taking a 13-5 lead into halftime.

Down by eight entering the second half, the halftime speech by coach Paraliza inspires the young Rockers White team as they amp up their defense with multiple steals and the hot-shooting Apiag and teammate Zaydon Fejarang.  The Rockers White storm back and take a 17-15 lead going into the fourth and final quarter.

The Hawks were not done, though, as they go back to Sablan as he opens the fourth quarter with a basket and a foul to tie the game.  On the next possession, a determined Apiag puts the Rockers on his back and answers with another steal and layup giving the Rockers a two-point advantage. Taimanglo and Apiag trade baskets with the Rockers taking a 21-19 lead.  Seeing enough, southern basketball legend, coach Franklin “Z” Taitague calls a time out with 2:15 left on the clock to calm his team.  After the timeout, the Hawks once again go back to Sablan who converts a quick two-pointer to tie the game up again.

With less than a minute remaining, Sablan excites the southern fans by converting a two-point jump shot.  After a costly turnover by the Rockers White, the Hawks sense a victory and control the game clock and stifle any attempts for a comeback and come out the victors in a hard-fought battle.

Hawks’ big man Josaih Sablan was the difference for his team by scoring 19 of his team’s 23 points. Rockers White’s Kaden Apiag scored 13 points in a valiant effort.

Hernandez, Cruz, Henderson lead Rockers Green to championship

In the nightcap, the top-seeded Sinajana Rockers Green took on the fourth-seeded Barrigada Crusaders Edge for the rights to challenge the Hawks in the U12 championship game on Saturday. The Rockers Green were determined from the get-go to be represented in the championship game and edged out the Crusaders Edge 34-10.

The Rockers Greens’ Noah Hernandez scored a game-high 10 points, while teammates Tamarrein “Bubba” Henderson and Joseph Cruz scored 9 points apiece. The Crusaders Edge’s Toby Babauta scored 4 points and teammates Donovan Moss and Aiden Ulanday scored 2 points each.

The Inarajan Hawks and Sinajana Rockers Green advance to the championship game on Saturday, August 1st at 2 pm at the Sinajana gym.

Information provided by Vincent Duenas at vjgduenas@hotmail.com.