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CNMI: Nominees briefed at first MIBT tryout - Jan 7, 2004

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With the popular 27th Marianas Invitational Basketball Tournament nearing, head coach Rufino Aguon began the process of selecting the 12-man roster that will make up the Saipan All-Stars team, holding the first tryout session last Tuesday evening at the Northern Marianas College Gymnasium.
The tryout, which was by invitation only, was pretty calm compared to Aguon's normal routine. The young players were briefed with what was expected of them during the course of the next three weeks.
"The invitation was the first selection process," said Aguon. "We invited 18 players, but are looking for only 12 to fill the roster, so not all will be able to make the team. The roster will be released on January 29, but I hope that those who don't make it won't get discouraged."
Aguon clarified all the rules that must be abided by in order to make the cut, and among those were maintaining a C average in school, no smoking, and no alcohol consumption.
"The competition is going to be tough," he said. "With that, we know that we're going to need players who have the mentality to take on challenges. Showing me that you can go to school, get good grades, and still train proves that you can handle the mental aspect of the tournament."
"It doesn't have to be here [NMC Gym], but if any of us [coaching staff] see anyone of you guys smoking, you're out.if any of us see one of you guys drinking, you're out. The law doesn't permit you to do those kind of things."
Aguon, who led Team Saipan to the championship in 2002 and a second place finish in 2001, stressed that statistics-scoring-from previous leagues where the players competed in won't have an effect on the selection.
"As you can see, not all players here are scorers," he said. "We have players who specialize in defense, in rebounding, and players who go in and do what they're told to do. In order for us to be successful, we're going to need all the players to focus as a team. A player can be a good scorer, but if he learns to work well with his teammates, maybe he can score more points or contribute in another way that will be positive for the team."
Spearheading the list are MIBT veterans Danardo Barcinas, Leroy Kani, Oscar Ada, and Mel Manibusan, all who were part of Saipan's championship run two years ago.
Also making the list is veteran guard Paul Magcalas, speedster Ben Jones, Julian Ranas, A.J. Mettao, Pete Iguel, scoring machine Josh Sablan, forwards Derrick Omengabar and Jeremy Winkfield, Rowell Aranda, outside sniper Brian Flores, Jesse Garcia, Tyrone Fitial, Alison Kaipat, and Joe Acosta.
For their part, Barcinas, Kani, Ada, Manibusan, and Winkfield were also members of the CNMI All-Stars team that competed in the 22-and-under Micronesia Basketball Tournament in Palau last November.
"Those guys are very young and got to experience playing at a level far higher than the level of play that is witnessed at the MIBT," said Aguon. "So hopefully their leadership and experience will rub off on the newcomers."
Flores, Aranda, Kaipat, Mettao, and Ranas were also part of the Saipan Southern High School Manta Rays that won the 2003 MISA High School Basketball League champion-ship last month.
Aguon's coaching staff also comprises of assistant coach Lawrence Rosario and trainer Gabriel White.
Aguon also added that all players eligible to play in the tournament must not turn 19 years of age by April 1, 2004 and must be enrolled in school or have graduated.
The tournament will be played sometime in March at Tinian.

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