Lae wins 14th BOMI Ralik Ratak Shootout Tournament
The championship of the 14th BOMI Ralik Ratak Shootout Basketball Tournament saw the two best teams in the Marshall Islands go head-to-head in what can only be described as a brilliant example of Marshall Islands prime time basketball. Lae controlled the final minutes to defeat Majuro 89-83 before over 2,000 screaming fans.
The game had a bit of everything: Dozens of lead changes, impressive drives to the basket by Lae point guard Lajji Maddison and Majuro's shooting guard Jr. Anuntak, sparkling three-point shooting by Majuro's Mokku Lamille until he got into foul trouble and Lae's Bolear Bokna (later named the MVP), neither team managing more than an eight point lead before the other came roaring back to tie or go ahead, a crowd estimated at over 2,000 screaming, car honking fans, a beautiful island night after weeks of rain. To sum it up: a basketball fan's dream for the BOMI Ralik Ratak Shootout. Another fan-pleasing element to this game was the Brothers Maddison — Lajji and Tomtom — on opposing teams, often guarding each other. Younger brother Tomtom didn't shrink from the challenge, shaking off Lajji's glue-like defense to score. Then Lajji would return the favor, blowing by Tomtom to score or set up a teammate for a basket.
There were no blowouts on the menu Saturday night (October 11, 2014) in Majuro. But when Majuro opened up with an 11-5 lead early in the first quarter, there must have been some in the crowd who thought Majuro would break the game open early. Lae, however, had other ideas, catching up in short order. And then it was one team in the lead, then the other.
In the second half, Lae's pressing defense forced a series of Majuro backcourt turnovers that Lae turned into points. Another challenge for Majuro was that Troy Yaingeluo, one of the top players on the team, rarely saw the ball on offense in the second half — though he had been one of the team's strongest scorers, inside and out, during the tournament. Lae stuck to its game plan: multiple passes and low post screens to set up open shots. Still Lae was able only to get a lead of four-to-six points and then Majuro would score.
In the last minute of play, Majuro was forced to foul, sending Lae players to the line for free throws. Final score: Lae 89, Majuro 83.
In the third place game, Maloelap opened up a 20-point lead over Wotho in the first half and never looked back. At one point, Maloelap led by 29 points. Final scord: Maloelap 101, Wotho 86.
Immediately following each game, Arlington Tibon, representing major sponsor Bank of Marshall Islands, presented a trophy and check to the teams. Third place Maloelap received a trophy and $500, second place Majuro received a trophy and $750, and Champion Lae received $1,000 and a trophy. Coach Thomas Heine was named coach of the tournament, and his player Bolear Bokna received the Most Valuable Player award.
During halftime of the first game, tournament organizers continued the halftime free throw contest, sponsored by Sandy Alfred for Sandy's Restaurant. Stacy deBrum, a 12th grader at Assumption High School, won the $50 prize for the free throw contest. At halftime of the championship game, a three-point contest with six contestants was held. Buffy Chutaro, a senior at Majuro Baptist Christian Academy won the $100 prize.
See photos from the championship game in photo galleries.
Photo: Team Lae and Marshall Islands Basketball Federation board member Alber Alik presenting the trophy, and Bank of Marshall Islands official Arlington Tibon presenting the $1,000 prize to Coach Thomas Heine. Photo: Hilary Hosia.