AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy — The Naples boys basketball team dashed Aviano’s small hope of repeating as American Schools in Italy champions with a pair of lopsided victories Friday and Saturday.
Ryheam Trahan scored 22 points, with Jun Jun Gallardo and Eddie Allen combining for 21 more as the Wildcats routed the Saints, 61-34, on Saturday. That followed a 42-28 victory Friday that had officially eliminated the Saints from the ASIL title race.
Aviano (7-5) won the last two titles on the way to consecutive DODDS-Europe Division II championships. But it appears that Naples (12-0) has a better chance of playing for a European title this year. Naples takes on Division III Sigonella next weekend with the ASIL crown on the line. The Jaguars (11-1) swept winless Florence on Friday (65-16) and Saturday (56-12).
Naples coach Craig Lord said Friday night his team wasn’t overlooking Aviano with the matchup against Sigonella looming.
“We’re taking it one game at a time,” he said. “I really haven’t thought about Sigonella yet. Aviano’s history … you don’t take any games with them lightly.”
Friday’s contest was lopsided from the start. Aviano tried to slow the game down and give Naples fewer chances to score. That limited the Saints’ opportunities as well and the scoreboard showed it as Naples led 26-7 at halftime. Naples’ 6-foot-3-inch junior center Nigel Alexander had 14 of his game-high 16 points by halftime.
The Saints made the game respectable in the last quarter, holding the Wildcats without a basket until almost a minute left. Much of that was due to Naples’ attempts to run a slower offense itself — something the Wildcats don’t often do.
Andrew Bert paced Aviano with 11 points.
Saturday’s game was just as lopsided. Naples used a 25-8 second quarter to lead 38-14 at the half and then traded baskets with the Saints after halftime. Gallardo had 12 points and Allen added nine for Naples. Zach Erskine led the Saints with 11 points.
Aviano ends the regular season Friday and Saturday at Vicenza.