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NIMITZ HILL, Guam — The founding father of Guam High’s boys basketball program is moving on.

Roger Dequina, who led the team to a Class A Far East championship and a Guam league crown, will begin work on a doctorate degree from the University of Hawaii in the fall.

“He will be a great loss to Guam High,” said principal Maria Rubio.

The 32-year-old Dequina, who grew up in Mangilao, on the island’s east-central side, has coached the Panthers since the school opened its doors in September 1997.

“I helped turn the key and hopefully established good roots for the basketball program,” he said.

His most successful years were his first two, when Tyrun Willoughby and Troy Hoover led the Panthers to the Class A title in 1998. They finished fifth a year later in the Class AA tournament.

Despite losing seasons the past two years, Dequina called his seven-year stint at Guam High “a good run.”

“Being able to be a part of the history, the first formative years of the program,” he said. “We’ve had some success, we’ve had some tough years, but I think the consistency of me being the coach has been a plus.”

Dequina attended John F. Kennedy, a public school in Upper Tumon, in the late 1980s. While his teams placed third in Class AA in 1988 and ‘89, he said he picked up a lot from Islanders coach Joe Taitano.

“A lot of people looked at Joe’s coaching philosophy as extreme. But you can’t argue with the results,” Dequina said of the volcanically tempered Taitano, who has a Class AA girls title and several Final Four finishes on both sides of the court.

Dequina believes they’re rooted in “the three D’s: Determination, dedication and discipline.”

“Without the discipline, everything is pointless,” he said. “Offense, defense, all that encompasses discipline. And 100 percent effort, determination and a sense of dedication. It worked for us.”

“He always taught me to never give up, always try your hardest,” said junior guard Justin Lee. “He taught me how to shoot better, better court awareness, and turned me into a better athlete, too.”

Dequina has “no regrets” about leaving Guam High, saying there’s a chance he might seek a position at Hawaii-Pacific, or perhaps work for his first DODDS principal, Kevin Brewer, who’s at SHAPE High in Belgium.

“It’s been a good run. I’ll miss it,” he said. “Panther pride is swelling down here. We’re trying to establish a more spirited athletic program. Panther pride will be a lot more pronounced” in the coming years.

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