By Robert Balajadia

Guam's Joe Blas was able to power his way in the paint for two points. (photo by Jose Pere)

Guam’s Joe Blas was able to power his way in the paint for two points. (photo by Jose Pere)

With their backs against the wall, Guam got a go-ahead bucket from Joe Blas to beat Korea University in overtime 100-99. It was a must win for Guam if they wanted to compete for first place having lost to National University (Manila) on opening night.

Blas finished with 27 points and 11 rebounds while teammate J.P. Cruz finished with a team-high 30 points. Will Stinnett had 20 points and 8 rebounds and a clutch tip towards the end of regulation.

“It was a must win. Our primary goal is to win the tournament. Tonight we played a little bit better, not much better, but down the stretch we made our free throws and made key stops. That’s the difference between winning and losing. Today we emphasized on closing out against the shooters and their percentage went way down on their threes. Our big guys aren’t as big as their bigs, but [Guam] definitely played big tonight,” stated head coach E.J. Calvo on their team’s overall defensive performance.

Guam held a 73-62 lead heading into the fourth quarter, but Korea rallied behind Seong-gon Moon as they began to chip away at the lead.

Korea retook their first lead since the first quarter on a fast-break dunk from Moon 84-83. Moon finished a game-high 36 points and 14 rebounds.

The score was tied at 88 with 18 seconds left when Blas had an empty trip to the free-throw line, but Guam secured the offensive rebound on the second miss and held it for the last shot.

Cruz had the ball in his hands and tried to drive towards the basket against the taller defender and missed the layup, but Stinnett soared in and quickly put back Cruz’ miss to give Guam the 90-88 lead with two seconds on the clock.

After a timeout, Korea lobbed a pass from the inbound to Moon where he caught it right under the basket and quickly kissed it off the glass for the game-tying buzzer beater to send it into overtime.

OT Thriller

Korea University Ji Hoo Kim gets around Guam's Dominic Sablan. (photo by Jose Perez)

Korea University Ji Hoo Kim gets around Guam’s Dominic Sablan. (photo by Jose Perez)

The lead changed after every possession ensuing the overtime tip.

Korea scored the first bucket in overtime but Guam’s Jin Han nailed his first three-pointer of the night to give Guam the 93-92 lead. Korea would answer back with a bucket from Moon, but a Blas jumper gave Guam back the lead 95-94.

Korea fed Sang-Jae Kang in the post for another lead change, but Cruz was able to find wiggle room for a clutch three-pointer to put Guam back up 98-96.

Trailing 98-97, Korea turned to Ji-hoo Kim in final 40 seconds as he hit a jumper from the wing to put his team up 99-98.

With less than 30 seconds left, Guam worked the ball around the perimeter until they found Blas on a mismatch with Korea’s big man Kang on the wing.

“They wanted to come to me on the weak side after a swing. When I got it, I already knew I was just going to attack,” stated Blas on the final possession.

Without hesitation, Blas used a quick crossover and eruo-stepped his way around the defense and nailed the go-ahead bucket with 13 seconds left on the clock.

“I was not looking at my first [defender] but was looking for the big man to make the switch and then was looking to get a shot over him, and fortunately I did,” Blas continued.

Korea had one last chance to win it, but a great defensive stand had Seong-mo Choi driving to a crowded lane of Guam defenders only to throw up a difficult shot as Guam’s Vince Estella grabbed the rebound as time expired.

“I was just reading more and once you get it going, the confidence is there. I just took my time knowing I could shoot and remained confident while taking my shots. We don’t want to be in our home court and play for third place and losing against National University just gave us more motivation to come out and win,” said Blas.

Guam plays the Andersen Bombers on Friday before the final seeding is decided and National University (Manila) and Korea University will meet for the first time in the tournament as well.

Other Score:

Andersen Bombers 77, National University (Manila) 72

The Bombers also bounced back by beating National University (Manila) giving every team in the 2013 Friendship Tournament a 1-1 record thus far. Key games will be played Friday night to determine who will play in the championship game on Saturday. The winners of the Guam/Andersen and Korea/National games will move to the finals Saturday night at 8 p.m.


Taking it to the rim Guam's William Stinnett gets fouled. (photo by Jose Perez)

Taking it to the rim Guam’s William Stinnett gets fouled. (photo by Jose Perez)

With no defenders under the rim, Guam's Ervin Jose gets and easy layup. (photo by Jose Perez)

With no defenders under the rim, Guam’s Ervin Jose gets and easy layup. (photo by Jose Perez)

Korea University Dong-Yeop Lee sinks his 3 point shot uncontested. (photo by Jose Pere)

Korea University Dong-Yeop Lee sinks his 3 point shot uncontested. (photo by Jose Pere)

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