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Coach Benavente shows championship class
THE Summer Jam 2012 basketball tournament championship games continued last Sunday at the Tamuning Gymnasium with the U14 recreation division Cobras I squad taking on the Asan Maina Rai. Cobras I wasted no time lighting up the scoreboard as the game’s high scorer, Ken Brozo (17 points), scored a quick four points, rocketing his team to a game-opening 9-0 run.
Rai, trailing 21-4 with 8:34 left in the opening half, hoping to ice the sizzling Cobras, called a timeout. Brozo, with time back in, stole the inbound pass, which he took coast-to-coast, bringing the ball hard to the hole and thus increasing their lead 23-4.
Dejected and confused on both ends of the floor, caused in part by the Cobras I’s big men Brozo and Noah Blas owning the key and heavily contesting or swatting down nearly every Rai shot attempt from inside the paint, Rai started throwing up airballs from beyond the arc.
The first half ended (31-4) with the young Rai squad returning to their bench with heads hanging low. Signaling that halftime was over, the buzzer sounded, with the Rai players seemingly glued to their seats, not wanting to return to the hardwood for more punishment.
Not wanting to run up the score and dampen an already soggy Rai spirit, Cobras I came out to the floor with a slowed-down tempo, slipping into a half court offense, using most of the 35-second shot clock, running plays, and looking for the open man. All in the name of fairness and good nature, the Cobras I abandoned their first half fastbreak “run and gun” style offense and left the floor not only as champions (51-17 final score), but as sportsmen and gentlemen as well.
Instead of running up the score, Coach Benavente, for most of the second half, played her bench players, including who she described as “our special boy,” referring to her autistic team member, Justin Flores.
Benavente spoke with praise regarding Flores: “This was his first time coming out. We always have him try to shoot and he’s trying to learn and at the same time I’m teaching the other boys to let him go whatever direction he has to go to play and to shoot the basket.” Flores ended the game with four points (one bucket each half).
Benavente, in speaking of her boys’ play as well as coaching style, added: “The boys proved today that they wanted to win the championship. The number one thing I teach these kids is sportsmanship. You don’t go out there to humiliate a team, you go out there to play team ball.”
For the runners-up Rai, Noah Diaz scored a team high six points, while Shane Nauta and Temo Blaz chipped in for three points apiece.