- WEEK 2 RECAP -

Week 2 is done and we have now seen all the teams in action! Of course it is still a long season and teams are still trying to work on their chemistry and shake off the offseason rust. The top 12 will make the playoffs and the top 4 will get a bye into the Quarter-Finals. There are teams dealing with injury issues/absences but they will have to try and manage to stay afloat until help arrives. I expect the standings to be tight all season long. We got 3 different writers for this recap including your truly (Commish), plus Ed is back for a couple and 6IXFAN makes his season debut after blessing us with amazing content in Season 3! So let's get right to it.  

HAWKS vs SIXERS:  Redemption is the main theme of this game. Both squads are looking for their first win this season as they each took an L in their first contest. From the warmup there was something different in the air. The Hawks were jolly and jovial before their season opener but tonight they seemed focused and ready to make a statement. Insider sources mentioned that the Hawks are now practicing more frequently and developing better chemistry. The Sixers on the other hand, had the same approach they had before their first game. They looked loose, relaxed and ready to go. The Hawks inserted Jude Voon in the starting lineup, as GM Patty needed to shuffle things around to try to find a combination that works. After a quick start, both teams eventually slowed down as they tried to set up for easy baskets. However, it was the Sixers who ended up converting on their opportunities. The dynamic backcourt of Nirosan Praba and Kevin Clerigo controlled the tempo and they lead the Sixers on offence. The Sixers started to pull away just before the halftime whistle as the Hawks struggled to put points on the board. Halftime score was 29 - 19 for the Sixers. In the 2nd half, we saw Andy from the Sixers really try to contribute and help his team. However, he only managed to hit 3 out of 17 shots for the game finishing with 10 points but with 0 turnovers. Being drafted in the 2nd round means there are plenty of expectations for Andy to step up. Suhi looked like he is settling into his role as a ball distributor, finishing with 6 assists. The Hawks were definitely more competitive in the 2nd half…if they could only capitalize on their chances as critical turnovers stopped any momentum they built.  But this could be because the Sixers put their game on cruise control.  Along with Nirosan and Kevin, they got great support from their role players like Sarwar, LiShin, Mathan and Nathies who were all critical in the Sixers balanced attack. Nirosan’s hustle stood out this game as he always found himself in the mix, pushing the ball, motivating his team and putting up a game high 13 points and 6 rebounds. However, Ara, who filled the stat sheet with 10 points, 7 boards, 3 assists and 3 steals, while going 2 for 2 from the line, deserves the Player of the Game honours. He grabbed key rebounds, was a real glue guy, and he showed how a role player can easily be the most important cog in the wheel. Keep up the good play! The Sixers looked like they were having fun out there and GM Rahul drafted really well. And to quote our commissioner, “the Sixers are back!”. They take on the Magic next week while the Hawks get a much needed bye week.

Final Score: Hawks 40 - 52 Sixers (http://etbl.ca/?p=boxscore&gid=210)               Player of the Game -  Ara Ehamparam 10pts/7rebs/3asts/3stls - 57% Shooting

BUCKS vs PACERS:  In a highly anticipated matchup, we had the Pacers who were looking to keep rolling after their week 1 victory over the Timberwolves and the Bucks who were making their season debut. The Bucks have a solid core of players plus a legit go-to guy in 1st rounder, Chris D’Souza. Both these teams looked like they could win the Best Uniform Award (crisp…just crisp). The 1st half started slowly as both teams generally take a while to warm up. The action was so slow that we had enough time to boil some tea and read the morning newspaper. Suren however, gave the Bucks fans something to cheer about as he drained a couple of shots from beyond the arc. When the Pacers Chenthu Satkunrajah came off the bench, he provided an instant spark with a couple of great assists and his trademark hustle. From that point on the game got more exciting. After a poor shooting performance last week and a less than favourable review of his play, GM Vimal certainly redeemed himself with clutch shots that were instrumental for the Pacers as they pulled away with the lead. The Bucks used the 1st half as their warmup as they seemed lethargic and lacked intensity. The Pacers led comfortably 31 - 20 at half-time. The Bucks finally looked like they were playing basketball in the 2nd half as they began to showcase their top talent and 1st rounder. It seemed like the more they get Chris involved, the better the rest of the team plays. He finished with 17 points and 7 boards while shooting 50% from the field.  It’s apparent that Chris’ performance will be instrumental to any success the Bucks have coming their way. Nishant came to life and had a solid contribution as you can always count on his energy and hustle. But they need better performances from both Vijith and Randy as they were held to limited significance which suggests they still have some off-season rust. But overall, the Bucks just got going too late. Against a Pacers team full of threats, opponents have to come correct from the opening whistle all the way to the final buzzer.  The Pacers were simply above and beyond their competition tonight. Along with Vimal, there were plenty of standouts for the Pacers. Paolo and Andrew put up numbers across the board and Ganen Thanga was all over the court on both ends! By the end, he put up 13 points, 8 boards and showed tremendous energy that the rest of the Pacers fed off. But it was their 1st rounder, Akshay Vaishishtha, who shone the brightest tonight. Playing in outdoor cross-trainers, struggling with traction, he was still an absolute beast! He showed great ball IQ as he let the game come to him capitalizing on the lackadaisical play of the Bucks. Racking up 19 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and 3 blocks! He did it all and made the game look easy. Bucks GM (Annojh) had to leave the game at halftime as he had some prior professional engagements. A questionable decision from their leader, but it also gave the Bucks an opportunity to step up, come together and build chemistry in this young season. Hopefully, the Bucks don’t get any abandonment issues from this disappointing performance. The Pacers seems to be one of the most well-rounded squads early on in the season. They have quickness, good shooters, and intelligent bigs who are well-organized and know just how to play together. Giant expectations for the Pacers this season and can anyone stop them? They face the Hornets next week, while the Bucks try to get it together against last season’s finalist (Nuggets).

Final Score: Bucks 45 - 57 Pacers (http://etbl.ca/?p=boxscore&gid=211)            Player of the Game -  Akshay Vaishishtha 19pts/10rebs/3asts/2stls/3blks - 57% Shooting

Written by: Ed Rubiales @thelearningboy

WARRIORS vs HEAT:  This...game...was...nuts! We finally had the first game of this young season that definitely felt like a playoff game! All eyes were on Milton Laidley in this one as the Warriors are undersized and this set up well for him to dominate. Bahee got the task of guarding him on defence and while Bahee used his strength to stop him from backing all the way down...Milton still had the huge height advantage and was able to shoot over top or make the right passes without much interference. Bahee has several tricks up his sleeve and decided to pull out the trash talking card which only further motivated the big man from the Heat. Milton looked disengaged in week 1 and too passive but that was not the story in this one. He was involved alot more on offence and was very vocal in the huddles and on defence. He went 7 for 8 from the field and 7 for 12 from the line including 5 straight big time clutch free-throws in the late stages. Free-throws are considered a weakness for him but once again he just seemed incredibly focused and wanted to win this game badly after having a fuse lit under him. It was a back and forth affair and the only reason the Heat did not pull away easily in the end was because of Mr. Amit Sieukumar who hit a big 'and1' to make it 48-47, then hit a triple to tie the game at 50, and finally hit another huge triple to cut the lead down to 54-53!. He had it going all game and almost singlehandedly won it for the Warriors as he dropped 29pts on 10 of 17 shooting!! With less than 10 seconds left in the game and with Jeron at the line trying to extend the lead from 1...He misses the free-throw and Amit picks up the rebound and starts racing up the court with the ball and we all know he is feeling it at this point but inexplicably the team calls a timeout! This seemed like a perfect spot to just let Amit go to work with the defence not completely set and even if he misses they could still foul and save the timeout for one last play. Now you have no more timeouts and allowed the Heat to focus their attention on denying Amit the ball on the inbounds. They end up settling for a 3pointer by Thanujaan and GM Billal hangs on for a much needed victory. Thanu struggled in this one and started getting into it with the refs and the other Heat players and the Warriors will need him to stay focused throughout and not let calls or his own play affect him. GM Gautham did amazing in this one shooting 5 of 6 for 13 points and now just needs to work on getting his team mentally focused and not worry about things they can't control. 

Final Score: Warriors 53 - 55 Heat                         Player of the Game -  Milton Laidley 21pts/15rebs/2ast/2stls/0to - 87.5% Shooting

TIMBERWOLVES vs SUNS:  This...game...was...terrible! Obviously the Suns don't feel that way and let's give them mad credit for putting on a harlem globetrotter type show for the fans at Logos. But from a competitive standpoint and an effort standpoint the Twolves were nowhere to be seen especially in the 2nd half where they got blown off the court. They were shorthanded without Manveer and Pris who are integral parts of the team but as soon as the Suns decided to step on the gas peddle...the Wolves decided it wasn't worth it and mailed it in. Fatigue definitely played a huge factor and against a team like the Suns you will need a full complement of players to really compete. GM Jasinthan showed off his new teammate (Zanoon Ali) who is also his friend and he made an impressive debut with 10pts and 8rebs with a couple triples. I guess Jas already knew predraft who would fill the role left by Randy Cho...the alternate GM is already proving that he will do whatever it takes to hoist that ETBL trophy. Another friend of his that has been balling thus far is Mr. Abdul Wahedi who dropped a game high 27 and 13rebs! He is averaging a rediculous 26 and 11 so far and has stepped up for his squad. The Suns put on a passing clinic in the 2nd half led by Uma and Jas who had 7 and 6 respectively. They got numerous wide open looks and layups for their teammates (Wolves terrible defence certainly helped) and this team looks extremely confident at the moment. Twolves have a bunch of talented players and they will need to regroup and right the ship as they currently sit in the basement in ETBL. I expect them to bounce back soon.      

Written by: Kisho (Commissioner)

Final Score: Timberwolves 37 - 62 Suns                         Player of the Game -  Abdul Wahedi 27pts/13rebs/1ast/1stl - 4 Triples - 61% Shooting

RAPTORS vs CAVALIERS:  The Jazz were renamed to the Cavaliers during the offseason by President and GM Sayon Umapalan. He had a busy offseason convincing one of the greatest shooters of all time (Ainkaran aka Ainky) to join his team albeit through some controversy as he was preranked as a 2nd round keeper. He got his buddy Harrison in the 1st round to replace a departing 2 time Finals MVP (Demone) and they billed themselves as the Construction Bros. Sayon kept Yaga, Joseph (reigning MIP), and Thannojh as the core and added Sathu (Warriors Season 2) and Arjun (rookie). This team looks formidable on paper and appears to be a contender. The Cavs made their season opener debut against the Raptors who are coming off a loss to the Magic. Cavaliers looked rusty out of the gate which was to be expected when playing a team that has already played the week before. The Cavs were without their defensive stud Yaga who was getting the day off due to an ankle injury. The Raptors were playing great defense to start the game and flustered the Cavs and pressured them into bad shots while on offense. Chris and Louie drove to the lane at will while finding open players with little handoffs and passes especially to Shawn and Jorge as the help defense for the Cavs was non-existent. The Cavs caught a little steam near the end of the first half to ties things up with Joseph turning it up a notch by getting extra possessions and Harrison making a layup to tie it at 15 a piece. The second half the Raptors took the early control with Louie and Chris hitting transition buckets off bad possessions by Cavs which were in part due to the limited chemistry between the Cavalier players. Coach Yaga's quick substitution pattern gave players breather and he did a great job being vocal and encouraging the team. The Raptors led 30-23 and that’s when the supporting cast took over as Joseph started to curl down the lane and got to the line. Sayon hit a fan provoked 3, followed by Harrison 3 to go up 31-30. Both teams were trading back and forth down the stretch. Shawn Phillips who had tremdendous game on the boards with 18 could not finish his putbacks and the Cavs capitalized with Harrison going iso and scoring on a drive to the hoop. Then Harisson found an open Ainkaran who was struggling all game trying to find his legs after not playing organized ball since his knee surgery, hit 2 clutch triples. The Raptors had their chances due to the subpar Cavs defense but could not finish their layups or hit their opens 3’s as Joseph and Sayon gobbled up all the rebounds and made sure there were no extra possessions. The Cavs grinded this game out through the hustle of Sayon (5pts & 12rebs)  and Joseph (9pts &8rebs) while shooting 26% for the the game. They will need better efforts from Harrison (5/20) and Thannojh (0/8) for them to beat the top teams. Arjun (2 rebounds) and Sathu (2 blocks) showed valuable hustle as there was no drop off in energy when they were in the game. They knew their roles and competed hard which will be needed as they play the Warriors next week. The Raptors on the other hand are 0-2 and have played without their first rounder (Davy Wong) thus far but still battled and competed well in 2 tightly contested games. Fortunately he should be back and they have a winnable game next week against the Lakers.

Final Score: Raptors 38 - 42 Cavs                         Player of the Game -  Joseph Le 9pts/8rebs/2ast/1stl/1to - 60% Shooting

NUGGETS vs PISTONS:  Another team having their opening night game was the revamped Pistons led by GM/CEO Sugee who felt it was time to have a firesale. He sold his former franchise player (Usamah) and basically let GM Somi have him for free as he could not take him to the promised land. Now with a first rd pick, he drafted probably one of the best Tamil Sports Community ballers in Krisoth. Then he knocked off GM Suthan's glasses and stole Manish from right under. Next he slapped Patrick in the face and took away his own cousin from him (Cameron) while grabbing a Stephen, Steve, and a Jolly in the draft. After all the dust settled, Sanjoo came of the darkness and witnessed the Piston transformation. They got the ETBL S3 finalists (Nuggets) in this one who were looking go 2-0 and GM Ray wanted to spoil GM Sugee's night and continue the legacy of the woeful Pistons. In the 1st half we got to see Kris whose athletic ability is unmatched in this league as he is shifty, fast, and has range on his shot. Nuggets played man defense with Javan/Brendan getting the task of guarding Kris and they did a serviceable job by putting a big body on Kris which can slow him down at times. Kris hit a 3 to start the game and got to the line a couple times but was feeling out his teammates first who struggled to put the ball in the net. Cameron had 2 points and Manish was 3 of 9. The Nuggets on the other hand you would think they would take advantage of the situation but no they struggled even worse than the Pistons. Dylan went 1-8 and looked indecisive in this one and was not connecting on 3 pointers that were previously falling in Game 1. But give credit to the Pistons defense who were able to switch and cover ground. Dwayne and Javan only took 8 shots combined in this one while the Nugget also had 14 turnovers in this one limiting their offensive opportunities. Cameron cleaned up the glass for the Pistons and was very vocal something they lacked in GM Sugee's previous seasons as they never had a defensive anchor.  Steve, Stephen, and Jolly played their role which is defense first and provided timely buckets and hustle. 24 points allowed against a contending team is remarkable but GM Ray will make his adjustments which is why he is a 2 time GM of the Year winner and will be better prepared if they face in the playoffs. GM Sugee was unavailable to play but put on his cheerleading outfit and did his thing on the sidelines. Sugee finished 4th in 3pt makes last season and his shooting will be pivotal in spacing the floor for his star players. 

Final Score: Nuggets 24 - 39 Pistons                         Player of the Game - Krisoth Gnanenthra 17pts/6rebs/4ast/4stls - 3 Triples 

Written by: 6IXFAN