Week 4 had 4 teams winning their first game of the season which just means the standings are probably going to be pretty tight all year long. We also had a devastating injury, impressive individual performances, and record breaking first halves (record low lol). 9 games on Sunday and I am here to break it all down so let's get right to it!
JAZZ: MATHEOS!!! Holy sh*t...the Magic were left for dead as most ETBL folks were writing them off as potentially the worst team in the league...but Mr. Kostas wasn't having none of that as he exploded for a ETBL season high 38 points!! Matheos is known for his speed/quickness/ball handling/shooting/passing and the Jazz got the full package on Sunday afternoon. He uses his dribble effectively especially the 'in and out' to create space and help free himself for his long range bombs which he was drilling and it did not matter even if Mithun had a hand in his face as Mat was just in a zone tonight. GM Sayon had a game plan and threw 3 different zones at him lol (2-3, 3-2, box and 1) and played some man at the end and you would question why would you not just play man and double at times against a shooter like Matheos...but to be fair the Magic have a big size advantage with PJ and Obaid and thus the Jazz woulda got killed on the boards if they did and so it was a tough spot to be in. The zone helped keep the rebounding battle level and they took their chances with the Magic shooting poorly from the outside. Naren also burned them from the outside and he is known for his corner threes (from the previous time he played in ETBL) and he hit 3 of em to extend the lead in this one. The Jazz were missing Nitharsan again plus Tharsan and those are 2 starters for this team but GM Sayon wanted to play after already taking a bye. Suman and Mithun combined for 39 and did all they could to keep this game within reach. Zaid was solid on both ends as well but this team needs their first rounder back to make noise and hopefully he is getting close. The Magic get some confidence after this one and although you can't expect Matheos to carry this heavy of a load...they played a much better game overall and got contributions from some of their role guys which will be extremely important going forward.
Final Score: Magic 67 - 52 Jazz Player of the Game - MATHEOS KOSTAS 38pts/3rebs/4asts/1stl/1blk - 52% Shooting - 9 Triples
LAKERS: Classic teams facing off in this one but not a classic game as the Warriors were just too good especially on defence led by former MVP Thanujaan Thavaseelan. He had to guard Christian and did a great job of that plus put in work on offence which was a big reason why the Dubs cruised to victory. Christian ended up picking up 3 fouls right away and got a 4th one early in the 2nd half which really limited him but it will be on him to realize how important he is on the offensive end and not to risk silly fouls. GM Somi had another awful game as he scored 0 pts which this team cannot afford to have the way it is built. They have very capable defenders on the defensive end and so the offence is what they are going to have to figure out especially when teams key in on Christian. I am not giving up on them after their 0-2 start and I do believe Somi will have a couple breakout games which will lead to victories as he did last season. The Warriors are a deep squad and although they don't blow you away in any one thing...they are just decent to solid at everything. Jamshed had 16 and he will be counted on to lead them in scoring throughout the season. Gobie was effective with 6pts and 10rebs and chipped in 2stls and he looks like he can give them more which they will need against the better teams. My cousin Ganen struggled scoring for the 2nd straight game but was effective rebounding (6) and passing (4asts) and he is another x-factor for this squad. Warriors get the undefeated Sonics this Sunday in what should be a good test for them. Lakers get the Pistons to kick things off on Sunday.
Final Score: Warriors 46 - 30 Lakers Player of the Game - THANUJAAN THAVASEELAN 12pts/5rebs/1ast/3stls/2blks/1to - 50% Shooting
PACERS: Can a single great player defeat a deep roster? That was the question coming into this game and the Spurs answered that for us in the first 10mins of this game. Ali who had previously played for Bahee and was teammates with Jenison in TTBA had a chance to go at his former guys in this one but he struggled mightily and could not get into any offensive rhythm. Big credit goes to Jenison for taking on the challenge and using his length and IQ on a player he is very familiar with. Ali went 1 for 8 and had 7 turnovers!! They occasionally trapped him at the top of the key and before the halfcourt line but for the most part played him one on one. Kevin struggled as well going 2 for 11 and that is generally going to mean a lopsided loss for the Spurs which was the case here as they fell behind 30 to 4 at the half. Yes...they only scored an ETBL record low of 4 points at the half...yikes. Baki, Javed and Jeni all scored in double figures which was way more than enough to take down the Pacer crew. They are now back at .500 at 2-2 and they will have a bye week this Sunday. Pacers will take on GM Suthan and the Twolves at Mother Teresa.
Final Score: Spurs 49 - 23 Pacers Player of the Game - BAKI KARUNANITHI 14pts/8rebs/5asts/1stl/0to - 50% Shooting
HORNETS: Finally we got to see the Clippers in action for the first time this season! It was hyped and anticipated all summer long as soon as GM Randy decided to create his own squad and recruit the reigning MVP of the league (Kris G). It was probably wasn't an easy decision to leave his friends on the Blazers/Bucks but it helps knowing you will be creating a new contender with the MVP on board. Competition has been raised by quite a bit this ETBL season and even with players and GM's rating this team highly...they will still have to work hard and earn it. They have alot of 3pt shooting, speed, IQ, and defence but they have some concerns with how they will deal with bigger teams as well as how much their bench will give them. In this one, they all gang rebounded which would definitely help mitigate their size issue as Kris actually led the way with 11 rebs and 3 others (Archu, Anson, Shahriar) had at least 6 rebs each. Rags and Shahriar also combined to score 11 points off the bench while Shahriar also pitched in 5 assists! So their two perceived weaknesses was not evident at all in this one. To be fair they did play an undermanned Hornets squad missing Nishan and Bavi who are 2 of their top 3 players. Jelton made his ETBL debut and for his welcome gift he was hounded all game by Archu lol. Archu is going to give alot of premiere scorers issues with his length and tenacity...plus if you get by him...you got Anson waiting at the rim playing help defence. GM Satish played well offensively leading the way with 10 points for his squad and also chewed out the entire squad for their lack of effort. This had more to do with the lack of talent (as well as playing a tough team) more than lack of effort and so I would give them a pass in this one. They get the Jazz in the next one while the Clippers face off against the high powered Blazers in what should be a great game.
Final Score: Clippers 58 - 31 Hornets Player of the Game - KRISOTH GNANENTHRA 21pts11rebs/5asts/1stl/2blks - 50% Shooting - 2 Triples
KNICKS: This game was a tough one for the Knicks as they got easily beaten down by the Nets and also one of their teammates went down with season ending injury. Kirk Facey who is a solid big man for the Knicks went down awkwardly on his foot which resulted in a tear of his achilles! He was down for several minutes before getting helped to the sides and we pray that he has a successful recovery and wish him the best of luck on his rehab. The Knicks are now forced to find a replacement and considering they currently do not have a franchise or first round player...they should aim high! The rules for replacing players has been modified this season as now it takes into account the overall talent of the team as opposed to strictly the talent level of the player that is injured. GM Lemo will have to work the phones and recruit someone asap before the season spirals down the drain. They got solid pieces and good role players but not enough front end talent to do damage this season so the silver lining here is that they have an opportunity to make the team considerably better. As for the Nets, they did what they always do which is play hard on defence and move the ball on offence. This time Mike Daemi broke out for 16 points on 6 of 7 shooting (did he read the recaps? lol) as he looked more aggressive and affected the game tremendously for the Nets. Davy and Jorge hit double figures respectively and GM Chris' squad took care of the job. It is still hard to tell where they fall in the ETBL landscape but they look like they will compete every game and there is no telling how far they can go.
Final Score: Nets 47 - 31 Knicks Player of the Game - MIKE DAEMI 16pts/8rebs/1asts/1stl/2blks - 86% Shooting
KINGS vs BLAZERS: This was an interesting game between two teams hoping to make a deep run in the playoffs. The Kings were missing Aswath and Komz who are 2 key role players and so they had to dig deep and get as much as they can from everyone. Duzan was great again with 24 points and his scoop layups that hit nothing but net are becoming a signature play for him. But he did have 7 turnovers and forced a few passes that just were not there for him. In a game this close the turnovers were costly but they actually forced the Blazers into 18 for the game while they only had a total of 9. The Blazers were able to get a big perfomance from Chris D who dropped 23 and 10 while NJ finished with 12 as he had his hands full with Duzan on defence. Both teams played at a slower pace than normal and weren't really looking to push the ball too much. The fans and the scorer's table were expecting more fireworks and highlight plays...but this one seemed to be more of a drama than an action thriller. The slow pace, combined with the turnovers and perceived lack of intensity...it did not live up to the hype but it wasn't terribly boring either. GM Annojh with a big 'And1' to make it 43-39 and the Blazers would hang onto the victory. Blazers remain undefeated while the Kings get handed their first L of the season.
Final Score: Kings 45 - 46 Blazers Player of the Game - CHRIS D'SOUZA 23pts/10rebs/2blks - 75% Shooting - 3 Triples
BULLETS vs GRIZZLIES: The Grizz get their first W of the season! Ben had his breakout game where he was showing off the long range bombs as he hit 6 of 10 from deep and a bunch of them were from 6 feet beyond the 3pt line. Coming into the game he had gone 2 for 8 from long range and so this was definitely a suprise but he thinks he is just going to get better as the season goes along (which is a scary thought). Abdul was solid with a double double (14 and 11) while Zanoon made his debut after dealing with an injury and pitched in 11points. The Grizz looked alot better offensively with Z back in the fold and it should only get better from here. The Bullets put up a fight with only 5 guys suited up in this one...Nidun notched the first ETBL triple double of the season with 18/17/11...and it was fun seeing him and Ben battle it out. We haven't seen a guy with Nidun's size and skillset enter the league before but the Bullets will still need a full team to make some noise this season which they are more than capable of. Venush was solid again with 13 points and 4 steals! While GM Ruben also had a solid performance with 14 points on 50% shooting. They just ran out of gas near the latter part of the 2nd half which is to be expected with no subs and hopefully they will have a full squad in their next game which isn't till December (chosen 3 byes in a row). The Grizzlies are also off for the next couple weeks and they can come back rejuvenated after this big win.
Final Score: Bullets 51 - 59 Grizzlies Player of the Game - BEN OKYERE 30pts/11rebs/2blks - 6 Triples
PISTONS vs HEAT: The Heat continue to roll as they took care of the Pistons in this one. The Pistons are a team that relies on each member of their squad and in this one they were arguably missing their best player in Gohulan so it was always going to be an uphill battle. The one thing the Heat can do now that they could not before...they can get contributions from everyone...the roster is alot more talented and their role guys have experience and toughness. On a day where Milton arguably had his worst game ever in a ETBL uniform (6pts and 4rebs) they were still able to easily defeat the Pistons by 16 points. Amit attacked the basket all day and got to the line 10 times sinking 9 of em while the rest of the gang hit shots from all over the floor to keep the Pistons guessing on each play. They have started 4-0 and have their eyes on a top seed in the playoffs which looks to be pretty sealed up if they keep playing this way. They have definitely gotten breaks as well when facing opponents as some of them have been missing key pieces but they can only play who is infront of them. Their Miami Vice jerseys are also fire so all in all it has been a amazing start to the season. The Pistons will need to regroup and hope to have Gohulan healthy for their next game on Sunday against the Lakers. Asim was solid with 16 and 9 and Vinoth was active defensively all game. Let's see if they can bounce back against Somi and company.
Final Score: Pistons 35 - 51 Heat Player of the Game - AMIT SIEUKUMAR 17pts/3rebs/3asts/3stls/1to - 2 Triples
PELICANS vs BULLS: This game featured two winless teams looking to get that first dub of the season. Pelicans were dealt a blow when finding out Vijay was away for work which is a big loss for them as he is the engine of the team but they still have capable pieces that can step up in his absence. The Bulls meanwhile were playing without Su who is usually appointed the toughest challenge on defence. It was a low scoring competitive first half with the Pelicans leading by 1. Then to start the second half...Tes and Shang start cooking and put the Bulls on their back as they were relentless at attacking the basket. Sham and Evan also contribute with a triple each to extend the lead to 40 to 34 before Sham drills another triple to extend it to 7 late in the game. If the Bulls can get a little help from their role guys they can be a dangerous team as Shang and Tes will usually do all the heavy lifting. This was a big win for their confidence especially considering both Shang and Tes were held under 18points each for the game. Vman struggled with his shot again but just like the previous game he contributed elsewhere with 14 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 steals! GM Harrison led the team with 17 points but it took him 21 shots to do so while Omar showed off his long range shooting by hitting 3 triples in this one. Some people had the Pelicans as one of the top 5 teams in the league but they have now fallen to 0-3! There are still 8 games left and I am confident they will turn things around once they start playing with a full complement of players. Hopefully they find their chemistry very soon and they will have the next Sunday off to figure things out.
Final Score: Pelicans 41 - 48 Bulls Player of the Game - SHANG SINNATHURAI 17pts/15rebs/5asts/1stl/1blk - 50% Shooting