By Randy Dela Cruz, Ho'okele Sports Editor
Trailing by a point early in the second half, Pacific Command/Joint Intelligence Operation Center (PACOM/ JIOC) went on a 13-0 run and then hung on to defeat Headquarters Pacific Air Forces (HQ PACAF), 38-32, on Jan. 30 in an intramural basketball Blue Division matchup at Hickam Fitness Center, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.
Sparked by the play of guard Darius Richardson, a military family member, PACOM/JIOC slowly took control before Intelligence Specialist 2nd Class Rob Tievy connected on a 3-point shot to put the team out in front, 29-17, with 10:12 remaining in the contest.
“Overall, we knew we were better,” Richardson said. “It’s the first game of the year, so everybody is just trying to get used to each other. We just played better. We stepped up, played better defense, got a couple of steals and got a quick six points right off the bat.”
While PACOM/JIOC finally pulled away in the second half, the team played the entire first half with HQ PACAF hot on their heels.
Tied at 4-4, PACOM/ JIOC went on a 5-0 run, but later in the same half HQ PACAF evened the score at 12-12 after 1st Lt. Eric Griffin put down a shot with 2:23 remaining before halftime.
The teams traded 3-pointers as time wound down, but a free throw by Staff Sgt. Trevone Curry put PACOM/JIOC ahead, 16-15, at the break.
The lead was quickly lost at the start of the second half, but back-to-back baskets by Richardson seemed to light a fire under PACOM/JIOC.
Although the play of Richardson was the catalyst that eventually led PACOM/JIOC to victory, he said that all he was trying to do was get everybody on the same page.
“I’m not an individual player,” he admitted. “As I said, we came together and played better defense. I just happened to get the first two baskets after the break.”
Once Tievy’s trey put PACOM/JIOC ahead by double-digits, Richardson said he knew the game was in the bag.
“That was the turning point,” said Richardson about Tievy’s long-distance shot. “I told him to shoot it, so he hit that three, and we went up by double digits and evidently it was a wrap.”
A total of 11 players got on the scoreboard for PACOM/JIOC, while Master Sgt. Mark Sanchez led HQ PACAF with nine points, which included a 3-point goal in the first half.
Sanchez explained that the team was hurt by having only eight players for the game but also pointed out that it was the turnovers in the second half that really cost them the most.
“We were not taking care of the ball,” Sanchez noted. “I think fatigue got us. We didn’t have a lot of players like they did. We had only three guys on the bench, so we were just running with the guys we had.”
Despite dropping their first game, Sanchez said he still believes that HQ PACAF would be far more competitive than they were last season, which ended with a 3-11 record.
“I played last year and I don’t think we had as much participation as we do this year,” he said. “I’m hoping that we do have a better year, but it’s all about having fun and just playing basketball.”
Meanwhile, this year it appears that the Blue Division will be up for grabs as several teams seem ready to make a run for the divisional crown.
Based on the team’s personnel, Richardson said he believes that PACOM/JIOC will be in the hunt for the title.
“We got the players, we got the skills to do that,” he pointed out.