If a basketball team has more turnovers than points, it's not going to win the game. And on Monday night, in the Guam Department of Education Interscholastic Sports Association season opener, the Tiyan High School Titans boys varsity basketball team proved that theory. The Titans, in the 60-41 loss to the Simon Sanchez High School Sharks, committed 57 turnovers.
Making matters worse, the Titans shot only 22% from the field and converted 20 of 32 (63%) from the charity stripe.
Playing on their home court in front of a sparse crowd, Tiyan’s first shot illustrated how the evening was going to turn out. Gerald Malana, with his feet firmly touching the half-court line, launched a 3-pointer that didn’t draw iron.
“What the heck,” a Titans’ bench player said in disbelief of his teammate’s shot selection.
Malana, on 2-for-15 shooting, finished with a game-high 14 points .
As the Titans struggled to retain possession, the Sharks changed turnovers into quick, unguarded fast-break points. Leading Sanchez’s unselfish offense, Andrei Montoya scored a team-high 12 points. John Macaldo, with 11 points, was the Sharks second highest producer. Mark Becbec, dropping in 9 points, was the third crown jewel in the Sharks triple threat.
While it took about half of the opening quarter for the Sharks to make their first basket, once they did, they never stopped.
In the first quarter, with only a few tics on the clock, Sanchez’s James Edillor nailed a mid-range buzzer-beater. After eight minutes, the Sharks led 13-6.
With Tiyan’s Dewayne Ngirairikl watching the first quarter from the bench, the Titans 6-foot-3 big man saw his first action in the second period. Having an immediate impact, he blocked two shots, drained a jump shot and made a free throw. For the rest of the game, the Sharks covered him closely, keeping him from posting up in the paint.
Ngirairikl finished with five points, seven rebounds and three blocked shots.
With Moises Manalo playing pressure defense, the quick-handed Shark stole a ball, made a layup, and increased the lead to 10 points, 19-9.
“It was all defensive hustle,” Manalo said. “We were just running the ball down. That’s it.”
Manalo said that playing in last week’s McDonald’s Preseason Basketball Tournament helped prepare the Sharks for the season. The Titans, who did not play in the tournament, were forced to fix their mistakes on the fly.
“We prepared. We fixed our mistakes,” Manalo said. “It was really great to prepare for the season.”
With steals leading to easy transition buckets, the Sharks lead swelled. And with free, uncontested trips to the hoop along the baseline, the lead grew.
After claiming highly coveted 3-point, unguarded, basket-view corner real estate, Macaldo faked a shot, let a Titan fly past, and drove to the basket. With Tiyan arriving late to pick him up, the six-footer swished a five-foot runner.
“I’m excited for the rest of the season,” Macaldo said. "We got our first dub. We’ve got to keep going, nonstop.”
Although the preseason tournament counted for nothing more than bragging rights, when the John F. Kennedy High School Islanders defeated the defending champion Father Duenas Memorial School Friars 56-50 in overtime, Macaldo sensed opportunity.
“There are a lot of great teams, and I feel like my teammates and I, we have a chance,” he said. “We’re going to take that chance. We know where we’re going to go.”