WE ARE BACK LADIES AND GENTLEMEN!!! Season 4 kicked off on Sunday Nov 11th with the usual 6 game slate and I can't remember when the last time there was this much hype going into a season! We have 15 teams and 120 players with a ton of new guys who are looking to make a mark on the league. This of course is the recap section which we will have every week for the season with a couple different writers contributing to them! Any jokes/smart ass comments are not meant to be taken seriously! Ed Rubiales gets us going with the first 2 recaps so let's not waste anymore time and get right to it.
HAWKS vs WARRIORS: The season opener is supposed to give us an idea of what the season will be like. It should set the tone and standard and on Remembrance Day, we had the defending Champions in the Warriors facing off against an underrated Hawks squad. The Hawks were looking to prove the pre-season skeptics wrong. A couple of storylines here: Former MVP Thanujaan Thavaseelan aka “TD” aka “Tamil Durant” joins an already elite Warriors squad, while Champion Asok looks for greener pastures with the Hornets. Can Thanu handle the pressure that comes with replacing one of the top ETBL players last season? GM Gautham probably knows what he's doing cuz after all, he is a defending champ. Meanwhile, the Hawks who are mostly comprised of high school buddies, went out on a night of partying and debauchery before the season opener. They have a confident approach but will it pay off in the long run?
The Hawks had a good warmup and started strong! They jumped to a 11-2 lead courtesy of threes from Suhi, Sam and Patrick who take advantage of a Warriors squad that just looked rusty. They displayed good ball movement as their passes seemed to be at the right place at the right time for easy baskets. First rounder, Nirsan Kunaratnam, found himself as the beneficiary as he carried the team in scoring. The Warriors seemed to have been enjoying the good life as champions for too long as they had a hard time finding their groove but they managed to keep it close thanks to Amit’s grit and determination - he was definitely a spark. The Hawks still managed to carry a 28-26 lead through halftime but you know it was only a matter of time before the defending champs pulled it together. The 2nd half separated the men from the boys as the Warriors made life difficult for the Hawks by challenging every shot on defence while also being aggressive on offence. Their crisp passing led to many open looks and they combined for 12 assists compared to 7 for the Hawks. On multiple possessions, the Hawks seemed flustered and confused, desperate to even get a shot up. It was one turnover after another and at one point the Hawks went a good 5 minutes without registering a single point! Hawks GM, Patrick Lawrence, suffered a broken nose and a mild concussion but the Warriors never looked back and ran away with the game. A positive note for the Hawks was the great outing from Nirsan who ended up finishing the game with 19 points, 11 rebounds and 2 blocks while going a perfect 3 for 3 from the line. Certainly legitimizes his first round selection and ranking. This was the best individual stat line of the game! But the rest of the Hawks just couldn’t get it going as their players combined for 18 turnovers!. It was great to see Trevor being aggressive as he had a few highlights during the game but his free throw shooting continues to be an area for improvement. While Thanu had difficulty finding his shot and timing, he managed to contribute 4 assists while playing solid defence. Look for the former MVP to improve as the season progresses. The heart and hustle of Amit earns him 'Player of the Game' honours as he sacrificed his body diving for loose balls and came through with clutch baskets to put a stop to the Hawks intermittent surges. He finished the game with 12 points, 6 rebounds and only 1 turnover! Solid contributions from Bahee who got into foul trouble early but showed good composure finishing with 10 points with 5 boards while Gopal had 9 points and 9 rebounds. We witnessed that the Warriors are a team to be taken seriously as potential repeat champions which would be a first for ETBL. Their balanced attack can definitely pick up the slack should any of their players have subpar games. The Hawks have a gem in Nirsan, but would need significant contributions from the rest of the squad to be considered a threat in this league as one player is not enough. Maybe they'll think twice about pulling all-nighters before game day. A chance at redemption against the Sixers comes next week.
Final Score: Hawks 41 - 52 Warriors (http://etbl.ca/?p=boxscore&gid=204) Player of the Game - AMIT SIEUKUMAR 12pts/6rebs/2asts/1stl - 2 Triples
LAKERS vs HORNETS: The second game brought us the Hornets vs the Lakers. Both teams are trying to establish themselves as contenders. However, injuries to both their first rounders, Nishan for the Hornets and Usamah for the Lakers, means that someone else has to step up. Usually, that would be problematic for most teams but the whole Hornets team stepped up their game and contributed as they got on the board and put up solid numbers. GM Hari seems to have drafted a good supporting cast and their prospects and potential can only go up when Nishan gets back into action. The same could not be said for the Lakers as the team as a whole struggled from both ends of the floor. They only managed to score 14 points by halftime. They finished the game shooting a miserable 26.5% from the field (13 for 49) while turning the ball over 20 times! That’s a recipe for an L. They are clearly missing the on-court leadership that their first rounder would have provided. They can't wait to have him back on the court. GM Somi Ravin tried to do a bit too much and was hounded all night by Puvi Siva! He took 2 amazing charges on Somi and you can tell he is going to be taking on some of the tougher defensive assignments in the league. Somi finished with 9 points and a league high 9 turnovers! A bright spot though is the play and hustle from Laker big man Jenush Loganathan aka “Big Lumberjack”. He finished the game with 8 points, 12 rebounds (10 of them offensive), 2 steals and 1 block! The Player of the Game honour goes to Shanthosh as he was all over the court as a two-way player. He finished tied for the team high in points with 8, 3 key offensive rebounds and 4 steals! After the win Shanthosh was still critical of his own play, “I just need to get my cardio back, then I’m good.” Congratulations, we got our eye on you. This was not a high scoring game by any means, since both teams were dealing with injuries but it was still very entertaining. Other GMs would be wise to take note of players who are able to step up in the absence of their key stars.
Final Score: Lakers 30 - 40 Hornets (http://etbl.ca/?p=boxscore&gid=205) Player of the Game -SHANTHOSH YOGENDREN 8pts/4rebs/1ast/4stls
Written by: Ed Rubiales @thelearningboy
WOLVES vs PACERS: So as Commissioner of the league, I was looking forward to seeing a couple teams play more than some of the others. The Pacers were definitely one of the more intriguing teams to me for several reasons. Firstly, my boy GM Vimal put together a versatile team with a bunch of different players with various skillsets. He recruited a former teammate of mine (Akshay) who is a big man that can be a force on defence and super smooth on offence. He then recruited Mr. Paolo Vergara who is definitely one of the most entertaining players in the league to watch and he put on a show in this game shooting 80% and finishing with 14 points and a couple of nifty passes. Secondly, he drafted my first cousin (Ganen) after asking me several times how good he was but I had no idea since I never seen him ball! But it is safe to say he is going to be the x-factor for this team as he has size, speed and athleticism. He also finished with a team high in rebounds (8) and assists (4) and GM Vimal should pat himself on the back for taking the risk in round 3 of the draft. Lastly, he was able to fill out the rest of the roster with solid role players in Komathan, Andrew, JR, and Chenthu and they have started off the season with an impressive 11 point victory over the Wolves. Komathan aka Komz made some clutch baskets and plays for this team and the same goes for Andrew V who is looking to win 6th man of the year and Most Improved Player! Things are looking good for GM Vimal and all he has to do is hit a shot and they will win the Championship LOL. The Wolves on the other hand looked like they have never played together before (which they probably haven't) but it is still really early in the season. They struggled hitting long range bombs and finished 2 for 20 but this team also has alot of talent and versatile players so I expect them to come back stronger soon.
Final Score: Wolves 44 - 55 Pacers Player of the Game - KOMATHAN PRABA 12pts/4rebs/1ast/2stls/1to - 2 Triples - 62.5% Shooting
HEAT vs NUGGETS: Love seeing the old time buddies, GM Billal and GM Ray, go at it early on in the season and once again Ray gets the last laugh. Ray is reunited with his friends Dwayne, Brendan and Javan and that is a solid core to work with and they should be a contender this season. The other guys he drafted is what is going to make or break it for him this year and so far the results have been pretty darn good. He got Dylan in the third round and while Dylan put up good numbers with the Spurs...this time those numbers will lead to victories. He was incredible in this one with 6 triples and had the second highest point total on Sunday with 21!! (Abdul for the Suns had 25). He is now playing in a structured system with high IQ players and for Hall of Fame Coach Gregg PopoRay. Will he buy into what Ray is selling? Will he be the consistent outside threat this team needs? Could he be counted on to also be a playmaker? Only time will tell but so far so good. The Heat struggled mightily in this one and all eyes were on first round keeper Milton Laidley. He only had 5 points in this one but also only took 7 shots and looked a bit passive on the offensive end. I mean he did lead the team in assists with 4 and showed some nice court vision but with noone else doing much he needed to be more assertive. This was a slowpaced game with alot of halfcourt sets (especially the Nuggets) but the Heat never found a rhythm. They need to decide what type of style is going to suit them best and try and implement it as soon as possible. They also went 1 for 10 from the free-throw line (yikes) which obviously hurts. GM Billal drafted a deep team and I have confidence they will make some noise once the chemistry is set...but I have said this for every team Billal has had in the previous seasons LOL.
Final Score: Heat 32 - 44 Nuggets Player of the Game - DYLAN TEE 21pts/5rebs/3ast - 6 Triples
SIXERS vs SUNS: Game of the night! Two teams with talented squads faced off and early on it looked like the Sixers were going to pull away from the Suns. Great ball movement in the first half by the Sixers and I was definitely going to 'trust the process' but then all of a sudden in the second half the Suns turned it up a notch on defence. They stopped playing zone defence and allowing good perimeter looks (even Rahul splashed an open triple) and turned to man defence which was the right thing to do. Abdul, Jasinthan, PJ were everywhere on defence and they combined for 34 rebounds, 4 stls and 5 blocks! Offensively, Uma and Abdul carried the load and shot the ball a whopping 48 times! They did combine to outscore the entire Sixers team but sooner or later they are going to need help from their teammates. Abdul was clutch in crunch time and got this game to overtime where the Sixers got shut out and will take the first loss of the season. They looked upset and shocked that they lost this game...LiShin and Kevin even had a Durant and Draymond moment for a few seconds but we got a long way to go before the playoffs and so there is no need to panic. This Sixers squad have a ton of guard talent but they are lacking size and the Suns were able to take advantage of that. So not the most ideal matchup for GM Rahul but they should figure it out 'soon'.
Final Score: Sixers 43 - 49 Suns Player of the Game - UMARAJ THAVAKUMAR 19pts/7rebs/5asts/2to
RAPTORS vs MAGIC: The Raps were missing their first rounder, Davy Wong, and so you could have excused the Raps for not giving it their all. But knowing the type of competitor Louie is...he was not going to let that happen. He led the team vocally and with his play as he had 17 points and 7 assists on 6 of 11 shooting including 5 triples! In Season 2 he struggled with his shot from long range but after taking off Season 3, he looks to have regained that long distance shooting form as he hit 50% from deep. It was a low scoring first half for both teams as they were trying to shake off the rust and they did exactly that as they combined for 80 points in the second half! (only 35 in the first half). The pace of play was fast and both teams were getting their shots up. GM Wilbert, who was criticized for his draft selections, got a great effort out of his team from start to finish. They may not have any real superstar players but they have a bunch of solid players and are pretty deep. They had almost 4 players in double figures and 15 assists as a team! Some huge plays down the stretch as Mr. Satish Manick, who was an injury replacement player, hit a huge triple and followed that up with a big time steal in crunch time. He was 6 for 7 from the field and finished with 13 points! His plays were critical and set up the the chance for Vasko to hit the game winning shot off a sweet pass from Jeff Shea (who may or may not have travelled before the pass). Jeff finished with 7pts, 6rebs, and 5 assists and did a little bit of everything for the Magic. The Raps had one last chance to win the game and the ball was put into the hands of Jorge De Jesus and he had a game high 18 points on 7 of 12 shooting up to this point. He attacked the rim and got a foul call with about 2 seconds left in the game! 2 free-throws and down 1 meant that we were probably at least heading to another overtime game but unfortunately Jorge missed both of the freebies and Vasko dove on the loose ball to secure the win for GM Wilbert. Jorge did hit a clutch three pointer in the dieing moments to briefly give them a 1 point lead and so he almost stole this win for the Raps but they still should be proud of their effort without Davy.
Final Score: Raps 57 - 58 Magic Player of the Game - VASKO STOJKOSKI 14pts/7rebs/2asts/2to - 50% Shooting
Written by: Kisho (Commissioner)