We are officially back in business with arguably the greatest opening night of games in ETBL ever. There was a buzz in the air...the gym was packed (80 percent were probably Blazer fans)...the competition was fierce...shoutout to everyone that helped make this possible and let's have the best season yet! The stats are up of course and generally are done by Tuesday night at the latest. The game recaps should be up by Friday of each week and if anyone wants to write a couple or just one for your own game then let me know! (you can remain anonymous). Please remember to keep your outdoor shoes off the court as the gym floors get dusty easily. Also, do not practice shooting on the nets while the games are in play as we do not want any injuries to occur. Please familiarize yourself with the league rules on the website under the 'About' section and if you have any questions then you can directly message me. Now let's get to these recaps!
LAKERS vs GRIZZLIES: Opening game of Season 3 featured two talented squads but one was missing a key component (Brendan) who was nursing a calf injury. However, the way the Lakers started out...you would not have even noticed they were short-handed! A quick 7-0 run to start the game and then they eventually built that lead to 32 to 20 early in the second half. Very good ball movement and spacing early on for the Lakeshow as LiShin, Ara, and Sarwar were showing off their shooting touch. All three players are new to the league but they played like they had been on that court many times before. Once they add Brendan to the mix they should be a formidable team with a bunch of high IQ players and the only question will be what are they going to get from their role players. Besides the 'big 3', they only got 3 baskets from the rest of the crew and the defence started slipping overall by the team in the second half. The Grizz landed Anthony Jeyakanthan with the 4th overall selection and the way he played it may turn out to be a huge steal. He was off in the first half with his shot but started finding his range and was easily the quickest player on the court. He will be a nightmare to guard in transition and teams will have to get back quickly after missed shots to limit the fast break points. As the Lakers were slowly getting gassed out in the second half...that's when he was really able to go to work with his speed and got to his spots and made shots/layups. Nisan Gnanalingam started the comeback as he made a putback and a big triple to cut the deficit from 12 to 7. Then GM Vimal hit a shot from long range off a pass from Anthony followed by 2 consecutive buckets by Anthony to give the Grizz their first lead of the game midway thru the second half. The 'Big 3' for the Grizz combined for all 48 points and so they can still get better once the other guys start contributing as well. Lakers played extremely well for the first 25 minutes off this game and they should get a boost once Brendan returns. The Grizz are a better team overall this season and they look to be legit threats.
Final Score: Lakers 41 - 48 Grizzlies Player of the Game - Anthony Jeyakanthan 28pts/6rebs/1ast/1stl - 3 triples
JAZZ vs NUGGETS: The defending champs got a stiff test to start off Season 3 against the Nuggets and they will have to do it without their centre (Jenush). Meanwhile, the Nuggets players told me how they felt about their power ranking before the game LOL. Now to be fair, this was before Mr. Chris Searles took some sort of massive gain supplement and grew a couple inches since the tryouts ;). But in all seriousness, he looks like he can definitely use his athleticism to help grab the boards for this team and along with Dwayne who averaged 11.5 rebs per game last season...they should be more than fine which now puts them definitely in the conversation as one of the top contenders. They probably have the best perimeter defence in the league along with some extremely high IQ players. Now add the 2 time GM of the Year to this mix and we could have something special...now I am going to get complaints about jinxing them next Sunday lol. They played a fantastic first half especially on the defensive end and if you can hold down the Finals MVP (Demone) to 6 points for the game then you have done something amazing. The second half was a much different story however as the Nuggets did not score for the first 11 and half minutes of the second half!!! The Jazz stepped up their intensity and really started to close out on their 3pt shooters but unfortunately they could not capitalize on the offensive end as they only scored 12 points in the second half (Nuggets scored 9). First game of the new season and the Jazz probably had some championship hangover and plus they were missing their big man so not a bad overall effort. I expect them to kick it into high gear once they get back from their bye week.
Final Score: Jazz 30 - 37 Nuggets Player of the Game - Chris Searles 17pts/8rebs/1ast/1stl/2blks - 1 triple
SPURS vs TIMBERWOLVES: The Spurs are a brand new franchise and they feature the twin towers in JT and GM Pirasaanth. Unfortunately the GM was traveling for work and was not available as well as one of their guards, Nisanthan aka "ICU", who is recovering from a leg injury...which makes sense due to his nickname I guess lol. He still showed up in crutches to support his team and be the defacto GM and they still had enough talent on the roster to make this game competitive. Their guard Dylan played very well and showed off his shooting stroke as he led his team with 13 points. Roy got into the lane at will but couldn't get his shot to drop consistently but he will play a big part in how far this team goes. The Spurs looked sluggish in the second half and some of them had to log big minutes with a short bench and the Twolves took advantage. Manish told me he has been working on his shot which he struggled with last season and he was not kidding as he went 4 for 5 from long range and 6 for 8 overall!! Now that they drafted Ragu Ravin to be the primary ball handler...Manish can now focus on spotting up and hitting bombs as well as drive and make plays for others. Those others include Manveer Boyal who is absolutely fearless when it comes to shooting from downtown and he finished with 13 points including 7 for 8 from the charity stripe. Don't know how many times last season I would have said that Thuva scored in single digits and they still almost won by 9! (definitely zero times). GM Suthan has surrounded his first rounder with multiple offensive weapons and solid role/glue guys and this team looked impressive especially during a stretch in the second half where their tough defence ignited their offence. They got shoooters, they got ball handlers, they got defenders...they got a chance to make more noise this season. The Spurs will need a big performance from JT and Roy next game to get them back on the right track. One of their bright spots was Joshua Dykopf who showed us he can be very solid for this team on both ends of the court as well as doubling the amount of white players that we now have in the league lol.
Final Score: Spurs 42 - 51 Timberwolves Player of the Game - Manish Pitroda 16pts/4rebs/4ast/1stl - 4 triples
WARRIORS vs BLAZERS: Out of 6 games on the night you figured there would be one ass-whooping given...I just did not expect it to happen in this game! The Blazers came out blazin (yes, I have used that before...but they really did in this game). 4 guys scored in double figures for them which is the first time that has happened in ETBL! Vijith led the way with 21 points including 5 triples...He is obviously a very good player and shooter but this season he is the second option on offence but as teams start focusing on NJ...he is going to have games like this. Less pressure for him to be the playmaker and now he can simply focus on getting to his spots and making the defence pay for the extra space he will be given due to the increase in talent for RipCity. NJ was impressive himself as he had 15 points on just 8 fg attempts and chipped in 5 stls and a block! Pretty sweet way to make ur debut and reconfirm why he should be one of the top players in the league. Everyone played a part in this beatdown of the Warriors...Nathies was getting boards...Kevin was playing defence...Koby was making finger roll layups! and then you had ur starters do their thing. They gang rebounded which they will have to do but I am still a little skeptical as to whether they can overcome their lack of size when it comes down to crunch time in the playoffs. As for the Warriors...you have a bunch of new faces...the core just had a deep playoff run and lost in the finals...but they just were never able to match the intensity and focus of the Blazers in this one. Gopal was great as he went 7 for 9 from the field but the rest of the team could not get a rhythm going. Their point guard Amit can ball but he was rusty in this one and could not get his shot to drop. If you go 0 for 22 from 3pt range as a team...it's going to be tough. Bahee was quiet...Jeffrey took a few ill advised shots...the team defence was not where we expect it to be...but the beauty of it all is that it is only one game. It's a long season and they will have plenty of time to get everything squared up.
Final Score: Warriors 49 - 69 Blazers Player of the Game - Vijith Nava 21pts/3rebs/1ast - 5 triples
RAPTORS vs PISTONS: The trash talking leading up to the game was much more entertaining than the game itself. Alot of history amongst some of these players and after GM Thileep decided to leave the Pistons and form his own team...it was only right that we let them battle it out in game 1 of the new season. I just mentioned in the previous recap that the Warriors going 0 for 22 from long range makes it tough for them to win any game...so the Raps going 0 for 26 from three would fall under the same category. How about 7 for 51 from the field...a putrid 13.7%...Somi Ravin was one of the leaders of the trash talking brigade but failed to back it up on the court as he finished 1 for 13 from the field. Harrison also had trouble from the field but did an excellent job getting to the line (16 times) and finished with 17 points for the Raps. I will give the Raps credit for not giving up and slowly battling back in the second half but the early 14 point deficit was too much to overcome (especially if you only score 7 baskets in 44mins, jeez). Usamah was solid for the Pistons as usual with 11pts/11rebs/3asts and chipped in 2 steals. He is going to have to not only score but make his teammates around him better if they want to make the playoffs this season. GM Sugee made some clutch long range bombs and finished with 12 points for the blue team while Thileep, Mayuran, and Somi combined for 4 points for the Raps...Sugee was quoted as saying "everything else from this point on is gravy, this was my championship"...and he also gets the player of the game for backing up the talking.
Final Score: Raps 36 - 28 Pistons Player of the Game - Sugee Rajakulendran 12pts/4rebs/1stl - 3 triples
CELTICS vs BULLETS: The last game of the night started off really well in the first half with both teams playing pretty well. The second half however, one team took it to the next level and played well on both ends of the floor. That team of course was the Bullets who is another new team led by GM Patrick and they want to make some noise this season. They were without their 2nd rd pick (Tharu) and they still managed to put on a show against the new look C's. James and Javan combined for 33 points for the Bullets on an efficient 12 of 18 shooting! James looks like a deadly three point threat as he is able to get his release off pretty easily even when facing resistance. Plus he had a couple nice dimes to his teammates and could play an effective point forward role for his squad. I underestimated them prior to the season but they have been running some practices as a team and it definitely looks to be paying off as the chemistry is evident already (plus a bunch of them were already friends to begin with). I am looking forward to seeing how they do with their full complement of players. Celtics could not get shots to drop in the second half...they had a bunch of tip-ins and close range shots that would not go down. Umaraj and Abdul are obviously going to be their man go to scorers and they are going to be a handful for opponents. Umaraj is a bulldog and comes at you non-stop and attacks the paint at will. He did a great job following his misses (10rebs in this one) but he struggled from the free-throw line (3 for 11) and couldn't get his floaters to drop. Abdul finished with 17 but it took him 18 shots to get it and he is usually very efficient so credit the Bullets for not making it easy on him in the paint. Jas and Aaron were quiet in this one but they will need to be important role players for this squad to be successful. I expect them to be better next game.
Final Score: Celtics 43 - 53 Bullets Player of the Game - James Arakill 16pts/2rebs/3asts/1stl - 4 triples - 75% shooting
-Kisho Jeyaseelan (Commissioner)