THE Aces of Cagayan de Oro City tried the tricks of Golden State Warriors in their latest basketball campaign in Socorro, Surigao del Norte. And like the wards of Steve Kerr, the spirited charges of coach Diding Rivera were soundly rewarded.

Against Montaña Davao in the finals, coach Rivera fielded a "small ball" roster by inserting Richard Kwong, Rhodelle Nagac and Titing Daja in the starting line-up to maximize the team’s quickness and outside shooting as its primary weapon.

The gambit paid off as the Aces started hot, taking the lead that swelled to as much as 16 points en route to a 85-80 win.

After opening its campaign via an easy 38-point victory over Tagum City behind the inspired play of Jeff Morial, Bodie Tamparong, Junrey Cadano, Navid Parhisgari and Nagac, the Aces found its toughest match in the cash-rich invitational hoopfest against the home squad.

In fact, they trailed by 20 points at the half, prompting coach Rivera to press the panic button.

The Aces had difficulty containing the explosive Ronald Lamocha as their big man, Jay-R Gerilla got injured.

“Kelangan nato mahilis ang labaw at the end of the third quarter if we want to advance,” Rivera said in a huddle. Luckily enough, the boys responded well to the challenge.

Behind the shooting rampage of Tamparong, Morial, Welan Muñoz and Jun Daanoy; the hustles of Kwong, Cadano and Daja and timely baskets from Mon-Mon Peñalosa, the Aces fiercely fought back in the final half to win the championship game, 106-103.

“Coach Diding is really a master of adjustments. He knows how to maximize the talents of our players. Our heartfelt thanks also to Dr. Dave Obias and to Cagayan de Oro Mayor Oscar Moreno for allowing us to play in Surigao,” said assistant coach Jaymar Rivera, who is also city sports coordinator of Cagayan de Oro. (LLS)