The game started at a fast pace with neither team able to gain a lead until the last 5 minutes of the first quarter when Peleliu managed to cause several turnovers and score off fast breaks, to lead by 24-11 at the interval.


During the second quarter, fouls were at a premium as both teams racked up foul after foul.  Melekeok scored better during this term and were only outscored by 4 points for the quarter, but still trailed 45-28 at the long break.


It looked like it was going to be a comfortable victory for Peleliu and this showed in the player’s attitude as they continued to foul at will.  Surprisingly, Peleliu’s prolific scorer, Sunshine Soalablai was held to just 4 points at the end of the first half.  It was left to National Youth players in Sione Isechal, Douglas Schmidt and Traxx Mark to lead the way on the score sheet.  For Melekeok it was Una Rikrik who contributed most of all.


With several players already in foul trouble, Peleliu coach, Myers Techitong was forced to rotate players during the 3rd quarter, and that allowed Melekeok to keep coming back to win the quarter 24-16.  It was shaping up for a great last term.


Still with a handy 20 point lead, Peleliu could not resist fouling and starting point guard, Rayson King was first to foul out.  In the last 5 minutes he was followed quickly by Sunshine Soalablai, Douglas Schmidt, O J Johnson, and Arnold Undecimo.  This left mainly bench players to fight it out.  To their credit Melekeok would not stop trying and slowly but surely closed the gap.  


With just 31 seconds left they tied the score.  The crowd was going wild, with the most noise coming from the Peleliu fans.  Melekeok coach, Tito Ringang, kept a cool head and wisely used his time-outs to urge his players for a final effort.  Trading basket for basket the game finished level at 75 points each.


It was just what the fans wanted – an overtime game.  The overtime period remained close with never more than 4 points separating the teams.  While Melekeok lost Roydan Renguul with 5 fouls, their bench showed great strength as Coach Ringang rotated players frequently.   


At 35 seconds remaining the score was tied.  Peleliu hit a 3 by courtesy of Dietz Rengechal and their fans started to celebrate, but on the very next play, Melekeok replied with a quick basket by Una Rikrik, followed by two free throws by Chris Chiba and it was all tied up.   


With 3.45 seconds left, Peleiu missed a two point attempt and Chris Chiba grabbed the rebound and with his explosive speed went coast to coast for a lay-up but was fouled on the attempt.  With 0.9 seconds on the clock he went to the line and sank the first shot.  Melekeok fans went wild.  The second missed but while Peleliu grabbed the rebound that was the ball game.  Final score, Melekeok 88, Peleliu 87. A superb game to start the tournament.


Todays’ games have women’s division first with Peleliu facing Sonsorol at 9.00am, Ngaremlengui play Koror at 11.00am and Ngchesar go against Ngarchelong at 1.00pm.  In the men’s, Ngaremlengui play Anguar at 3.00pm, Sonsorol are up against Ngchesar at 5.00pm and the day closes with the clash between Peleliu and Koror at 7.00pm.


Fortunately we are Blessed with sunshine today for the outdoor sports to get under way, while the Gym will be rocking with basketball.



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