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BBAL Week 1 Review (Javion Rodriguez)

Week 1 of BBAL Basketball didn’t disappoint us! Many teams showed flashes of legitimate contenders and some teams disappointed. Let’s get into all of BBAL’s Week 1 madness! 

Our first matchup was a relatively one-sided affair between the Lanc Show and the Dragons with the Lanc Show taking care of business, 64-46. The Lanc Show, despite both teams starting slow, made their presence felt with verbal intensity led by new star Ajani Simmons. Their verbal intensity seemed to get under the Dragon's skin as they displayed poor defensive and rebounding effort in the first half. Lanc Show started off hot in the second half as shots were falling and Dragons failed to take advantage of weak Lanc Show interior defense that I noticed. From this point on, Lanc Show created a commanding lead, not by scoring much but defense. Lanc Show’s week 1 win was thanks to Co-Captain Jack Engle putting up 21pts and shooting 60% from three, also as a team stealing five times and nearly every time creating offense out of it. Dragon’s struggled early on all around. They struggled to match Lanc Show’s intensity and gain momentum of their own. Ricky Cruz, whose offense primarily ran through, struggled on both sides of the floor as he shot 33% from the field and despite having 3 steals, he and the team lacked defensive effort in the late second half. Kevin Roldan struggled from the field shooting 23% from the field which you hope will turn around in the near future. Absence of trade prospect Elijah Terry may have played a part on the scarcity Dragons offense.  Both these teams have fairly winnable matchups next week so we’ll see who comes out on top!

Next up, The Huskies and The Woodpeckers which the wolves came to play. They came out on top 69-58. To start the game, Woodpeckers new addition, Danny Bomberger came out hot spraying threes. Both teams cooled down and were neck and neck for the majority of the first half after this. Peckers would drill threes and Huskies would make tough twos to calm momentum.

In the second half, it seemed as though out of every Husky timeout, they would gain momentum I noticed. This momentum later in the second half led to a 50-35 lead which then they pulled away, thanks to Elijah Washington’s 15 points, most of which came in clutch time, former MVP candidate Timmy Edwards 24 pts with 53% from the field and David Kamwanga’s 15 points with 83% from the field. The Peckers struggled to keep up offensively while never really gaining momentum other than the very start of the game. Devin Atkinson shot 54% with 21 pts but other than him, Aleer Gonzalez’s garbage time points couldn’t hold them together also, Danny struggling from three other than the beginning of the game.

The third game was a nail biter between the Titans and Tropics. The Titans knocked down some clutch free throws in the final seconds to hold on 76-68. The Titans came out the gate on fire offensively while simultaneously holding the Tropics to under 10 points for some time in the first half. The Tropics put up a fight and stayed in the game with key defensive stops despite their “grit and grind” style offense struggling. Titans had a plethora of scorers and playmakers that led them to this victory like Ant-Man with 27 pts, shooting nearly 60%. It seems that Johnny Besecker’s draft pick in Chase Yarberough paid off with him shooting 53% with 19 pts. They had 4 guys shoot 50% or above! That’s just BBAL basketball! As for Tropics basketball, top guys like their captain Brad Atkinson struggled from the field, shooting 30% and Tyler Crespo shooting 38% with their Jah Greaves experiment questionable so far, especially with his week 1 trade rumors. This team to me, just had a bad night and they have too much talent as a team to implode. 

Our 4th game, being one of our most anticipated, was between the 8 Balls and the CherryPickers in a championship rematch despite both rosters being revamped to some degree. The 8 Balls rolled with a final score of 84-58.   The 8 Balls led by Ross Conway couldn’t stop rolling! MJM Co-Founder Jason Kuntzelman and Julian Collazo who are teammates for the 8 Balls played together throughout college ball. I’ve been familiar with Jason’s game previously as him and Marquel I’ve seen can dominate on the court. As soon as I found out Jase and Julian were former teammates, I knew the other teams in this league were in trouble. Them both combining for nearly 60 is all they needed to absolutely dominate with Jase almost feeling like he couldn’t miss shooting 67% from three and 71% from the field with 28 pts. Julian, who shot 81% from the field and 75% from three put up 30 pts. This team was electrifying to watch and showed to be legitimate contenders in this league! The CherryPickers didn’t necessarily play championship basketball as opposed to last year but, the 8 balls were feeling it. Despite John-John putting up 23 pts and Belly putting up a solid 15 pts, there was nothing they could really do to stop an offense of that capacity.  

To finish up Week 1 of the BBAL, It’s Gremlins vs Bullies.  Bullies ended up coming on top 68-62. As some are thinking, Gremlins didn’t seem like a team that is fit to compete this year. Even without Marquel Wansley for the next three weeks due to an ankle injury, the Bullies' new additions helped ride them to a victory. I asked Marquel about his injury after the game and his hopes on the team staying afloat for him come playoff time, he responded “yeah, that’s what we're hoping for.” Although the score says otherwise, the Gremlins were getting outplayed throughout the whole game until the end, they went on a run and created turnovers that led to points to bring them closer. This is a good sign for the Bullies though. Even without their top guy, they proved they can win games when last year, without as much help, they would lose games like this. All the credit goes to Captain Liam Besecker who drafted a spectacular draft class to give his star some supporting cast. Kobe Gantz being one who put up just 15 pts but also was efficient shooting nearly 80% and snagging 7 boards. It was an all around “spread the love” kind of performance for the Bullies as opposed to last year, Marquel having to do a lot more and the offense constantly ran through him. As for the Gremlins, Makai Ortiz-Gray put up typical numbers with 28 pts while shooting 55% from the field, and Nasiir McFadden put up 21 pts while shooting 57%. Other than that, their offense was shut out. They couldn’t find a spark to get others involved and their late game defense let them down.

  • Javion Rodriguez

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