By Rafael R Díaz Torres
The fierce race for the second position in the Puerto Rico Superior Basketball League (PRSBL) standings continues and the Guaynabo Mets had an important win over one of the top teams of this professional circuit.
For the winners, Angel Daniel Vassallo led his team with 22 points. His teammate Sammy Villegas made 12 points (4 three pointers).
The Crabbers had import Michael Sweetney as their best player with 18 points and 13 rebounds.
The first quarter presented an aggressive Santurce team that had an early 15-2 rally. Guaynabo’s ball movement lacked coherence during the first minutes of the starting quarter. Due to Ansel Guzmán’s absence because of an injury, the Mets had a starting lineup that did not have a player for the important point-guard position. With less than four minutes left on the first segment, Mets’ coach Raymond Dalmau desperation for a quality offensive half-court game scheme compelled him to bring young point-guard Carlos Rodríguez to the floor.
Dalmau’s move brought immediate results. His team tied the game at 17 after having its own 15-2 rally that included consecutive three-pointers from Sammy Villegas and two field goals from import Jelani McCoy at the beginning of the second quarter. Santurce was able to take the lead again, but Guaynabo stayed close throughout the second quarter. Two free throws from Mets’ player Angel Daniel Vassallo closed the first half and allowed his team to go to the dressing room one-point down on the scoreboard (31-32).
The third quarter opened with Guaynabo’s first lead (33-32) after a layup from Ángel “Buster” Figueroa. The next minutes were characterized by several lead changes between both teams until a three-point play from Figueroa in the final minutes of the third quarter gave the Mets a decisive 50-47 lead that they did not lose for the remaining part of the game.
During the early stages of the fourth quarter, Santurce came close to one point (54-55) after a short hook shot from forward Ángelo Reyes, but a technical foul called on his teammate Ricky Meléndez cost 5 points to the Crabbers and destabilize their game for the remaining part of the match. Shots behind the arc from reserve Sammy Villegas and Vassallo put the game in “security box” for the home team. The comfortable advantage allowed coach Dalmau to bring all of his reserve players with 1:13 remaining in the game.
Guaynabo’s comeback into the game after a discrete first quarter was made possible partially because of the energy brought by point-guard reserve Carlos Rodríguez. He finished the game with 6 points and 5 assists and brought coherence to the previously disorganized offensive scheme of his team.
“This is just my second year in the league and I have to admit that I was nervous at the beginning. My team was down and I tried to bring more energy to the court”, expressed 21-year old player Rodríguez.
With the win, Guaynabo improves its record to 12-9 and ties with Quebradillas in the second position of the league standings. Santurce now plays for 12-10.