TEAM Rampage bagged the championship of the 2021 Tinian Islandwide Men's Bud Light Basketball League by overtaking Team Kio 56-51 Wednesday at the Tinian gymnasium.
It was truly a championship match as both teams fought hard from start to finish.
In the first quarter, Kio established control as their ball movement created several shot opportunities. Kio’s Dustin Sablan led the pack with six points, including one triple, while team mates Robert Reyes and Lucio Sanchez added extra firepower with seven points combined to give their team a 13-10 lead.
But Rampage fought back, resulting in several lead exchanges.
Rampage’s Wesley Walker, who ignited in the first quarter, was nowhere to be seen in the second canto. But team mate Jayron Epity found his rhythm and made up for Walker's absence by scoring eight points while fellow Rampagers Leo Pascua and Luis Cepeda scored a bucket each to allow their team to stay within reach, 23-25.
Rampage's strategy to shut down Robert Reyes with a lockdown defense was successful but it was still not enough to kill Kio's groove thanks to its two other players, Dustin Sablan and Marvin Cruz, who delivered six and seven points as their team pulled ahead, 40-35.
But Rampage managed to step up when it mattered the most — in crunch time. With only two minutes left on the clock, Kio’s Kim King connected a crucial three-pointer. But in the final minute, Rampage pulled a huge rally with Wesley Walker draining the 3-point dagger to give his team the lead.
Kio aimed for the quick retaliation as they looked for Robert Reyes to take the shot from beyond the arc but Rampage's tight defense left no shot uncontested, and so the thrilling game ended with Rampage on top, 56-51.
Wesley Walker's 18-point performance not only carried his team to victory, but it also made him the MVP of the championship game.
Besides the second place trophy, Kio received the Pennant Champ Award for their perfect regular season record (14 wins, 0 loss). They were also named the Best Defensive Team.
For their part, the Devil Dog Warriors were named the Best Offensive Team while Team CNMI received the third place trophy.
As for the individual awards, Leo Pascua, Jayron Epity, Robert Reyes, Jake Montgomery and JR Libut were named the top 5 leading scorers.
Libut also earned the Most Rebounds and Regular Season MVP awards.
Leo Epity took home the 3-Point Leader Award while Damon Kada was given the Most Assists Award.
Also recognized were the three female players, Regina Palacios, Eleina Santos and Ria Borja, who each received medals; and the three volunteer referees: Jimmy Rios, Tristan Senter and Braden Havery.
Also receiving plaques of appreciation were Tinian Mayor Edwin Aldan, Marpac, 7th ESB, USMV and RNV Construction.
TABA says thank you
With the conclusion of the basketball league, Tinian Amateur Basketball Association Chairman Christopher SN King said he wants to recognize and thank his TABA officers, Principia Monkeya, Thealanie M. Atalig, The Stats (Isa K. Reyes, Josean "Bear" Alvarez, Anissa M. Dela Cruz, Tano SN King II, Christopher SN King Jr. and Pritzel A. Carreon), the referees (Dawn Sarmiento, Tristan Senter, Jimmy Rios, Braden Harvey, Antony Gunny, Elder Barrow and Elder Taylor), the DCCA staff, RNV Construction, the U.S. Marines, Kai Lizama, Ailia Dela Cruz, Robin Reyes, Melthon Atalig and Mrs. Inday from 3K Store.