Hours before the Guam Youth Leadership Cup 3x3 Basketball Tournament, Team TD hadn't even entered. It wasn’t until Friday, Aug. 9, that two of the four students even knew that the tournament existed.
“Friday, at about 10 a.m., Courtney (Henderson) called me and asked me if (her two sons) want to be on their team,” said Deidra Dela Cruz, Dillen and Damien Dela Cruz’s mother. “We just wanted the boys to come out and TT (Taneea and Tamarrein Henderson) to come out and gain the experience of playing in a 3x3. Just being able to come out and put their skills to the test was amazing."
The 18-and-under coed event, a FIBA qualifier for the 2019 International Basketball Foundation Youth Leaders Basketball Cup, tipped off at 6:30 p.m. Friday, at the Guam Basketball Confederation National Training Center in Tiyan.
The 2019 YLC will take place from Sept. 27 to 29 in Bali.
After working their way through pool play with a 2-2 record, including a win via forfeit, in Saturday’s playoffs, TD got serious.
TD, comprising Dillen Dela Cruz, Damien Dela Cruz, Taneea Henderson and Tamarrein Henderson, knocking off Underdogs, 15-13 in overtime, punched their tickets to Bali.
The Dela Cruz twins are students at Guam High School. Taneea Henderson, also a Panther, was the team's lone female. Tamarrein Henderson attends Andersen Middle School.
“It means a lot,” said Tamarrein Henderson, commenting on the win. “I’m only 13, and I’m already going somewhere.”
“We’re all siblings, and we’re all really good friends,” he added.
Underdogs, who performed equally poor in pool play, stepped up their game in the playoffs. With only a single victory in pool play, 16-12 over BBC, Underdogs played their best in the playoffs. After defeating top-seeded SP Killas in the semifinals, 18-16, avenging an earlier loss, Underdogs set up a finals clash.
The Underdogs roster contained Nico Bonita, Dale Bautista, Danica Cabrera and JonMichael Lorena.
Dillen Dela Cruz, with the game tied 13-13 in regulation, tried to beat the buzzer. As his jumper banked off the glass and fell through the cylinder, the time had expired.
In overtime, starting on defense, TD had to make a stop.
“Honestly, we needed to get that shot before they did,” Taneea Henderson said. “They had first possession, so it was going to be pretty tough.”
TD, after gaining possession and scoring a basket, was one point away from victory.
Taneea Henderson, with nobody guarding her, floated in the game-winning left-handed jump shot.
“This is pretty exciting,” Taneea Henderson said. “That was crazy.”
“We came here to play just for fun,” she said. “Obviously, we wanted to go to Bali, too. I’ve never been to Bali before, and I like adventures.”
“I’m speechless,” said Courtney Henderson.