What up YoungBloods. The holidays were a nice break but for most of us, we couldn’t wait to get back to the hardwood. After a 2-week layoff, would players show their rust or would they come out with a pep in their step, fully refreshed? Additionally, we want to welcome the newest member of the GBBL family, as Tabish became a father (Masha Allah) the night before week 9 kicked off. In true warrior fashion, Tabish shocked us all and put his name down for week 9, vowing that just because he is now a father, he would not inherit a dad bod right away (LOL)), and was determined to keep playing ball. The Direwolves enter week 9 as the Dynasty team to beat, but with no super sub Taher to rely on, would their reign continue, or would a new team emerge?
While dealing with 2 sick kids, Siad was able to find some quiet time to draft his team this week. He immediately went with the no brainer pick and chose Archie as his first pick and with that, the Mambas had already built themselves a formidable duo. With his next few picks, Siad chose Adil M (assuming he would have to babysit) and was quickly told Adil M was not for Mujeeb but for our regular sub, Merchant. Allowed to repick, Siad went more conventional and chose Hamid and Neal, 2 guys that can do a bit of everything. Adil Merchant was eventually added to the team, but a late minute cancellation, put the Mambas down a sub and would be forced to play all games with only 4 guys. The Mambas started the week very strong, with a 7-1 drubbing of the Soldiers, and going into the final game of the night, were undefeated with a record of 2 wins and 3 ties. Knowing that a win or a tie in the final game would get them in to the finals, the Mambas were up 5-4 on the Ballers when Hamid was fed the ball down low, wide open (the Ballers seemingly gave up playing). A bucket to ice it, Hamid missed the layup, something that would haunt him the rest of the night, as Awais hit a big three with seconds left to hand the Mambas their first loss of the night. First tie breaker is wins, and with 3 wins vs. 2 wins, the Legends would get in.
The commissioner took a crack at drafting his team this week, and on paper, assembled probably the strongest team this week. Jav being an all-around player himself, was able to snag big man Baseer (who by the way, is sick and tired of you all always calling travel – there was video proof he didn’t travel), and champ extraordinaire Omar. Jav rounded out the Legends with sharpshooter Adeel and the 1 guy that he’s never played with in 2 years (!!!!) Umar. The Legends wasted no time, going 2-0-1 in their first 3 games on the night. Unfortunately for them, they started getting complacent and up 6-4 against the Soldiers and 6-2 against the Wolves, they ended up losing both those games which would not guarantee them a spot in the finals. A rematch against the Soldiers saw the fire in the Legends come alive again and with a 7-2 win, they finished the night with a 3-2-1 record and 7 points. Knowing they needed a Ballers win against the Mambas in the final round robin game, the Legends continuously cheered on the Ballers. With a late steal by Riyad, a miss by Hamid and a dagger 3 by Awais, the Ballers had played spoiler and the boys in blue were in. They were so happy, some of the Legends were offering a few of their own GUT points to the Ballers for a job well done and allowing them a chance to play the finals and win this week’s championship.
On paper, Hamza initially drafted the strongest team. Him being able to dominate better than most in this league down low in the post, Hamza surrounded himself with all world talent Awais, another dominating big man Tabish, sharpshooter and pesky defender Riyad, and able bodied Sood. Unfortunately, none of us have seen Sood since week 4 and once again, was missing in action. His absence proved to be huge on this night as having no subs for the Ballers, coupled with Tabish still on a high (and probably exhausted) from just having a baby, the Ballers did what they could, but to no avail. With Riyad also missing game 1, the Ballers played 3’s against the Legends and lost. Game 2 had the Ballers up on the Soldiers, but big buckets by Zahid and a game clinching 3 by Shahzad had the Ballers in a 0-2 deficit. Game 3 would see the Ballers turn the tide with a 7-1 beat down of the Wolves and a tie against the Mambas gave them life. Needing a win in the last 2 remaining games, the Ballers were destroyed 7-2 against the Soldiers. With nothing left to play for, the Ballers headed into the final game of the night looking to play spoiler against the Mambas. Seemingly given up, the Ballers would force a turnover by Riyad, and with seconds left, Awais hit a dagger 3 that would send the Mambas to the bench. Another tough loss for big man Awais, as he is still looking for that 1st championship this season.
Mustafa decided to go with experience this week, and selected shooting sensation Zahid as his 1st pick. Coupled with Ziggy, Mustafa went with perennial champion Arif, who is somehow always makes the finals/wins the finals. Adding to the roster, Shahzad & Zeed were added to the team to provide more shooting and defensive depth to the roster. On paper, most pegged this team to finish last this week. Somehow, everyone forgot to mention this little tidbit to the Soldiers, and captain Mustafa had his team ready to gun for this week’s title. After a tough game 2 loss to the Mambas, the Soldiers had Shahzad hit a big time 3 to beat the Ballers and they were off. Down 6-4, they came back to win 7-6 against the Legends. 1 more win against the lowly Ballers all but guaranteed the Soldiers a spot in the finals as they finished with the most wins on the night with 4. With a spot in the finals guaranteed, the Soldiers last game of the night against the Legends meant nothing to them and the Legends won 7-2. This may have proven more costly than they would know at the time, as the Soldiers would face the same Legends in the finals, thanks to this win. As proven in the past, predictions prior to the games being played mean nothing, and the Soldiers and captain Mustafa showed this, by dominating the round robin games and punching their ticket the week 9’s finals.
The Direwolves entered the week as the Dynasty team and would need to rely on a new sub this week. Last time they played, the Wolves had super sub Taher, but this week, captain Hummaad decided to go bigger and took big man sub Osama as Taher was unable to return (conveniently, after winning the 1st ever GBBL 2K tournament). By pairing Osama with Raheel essentially created GBBL’s version of the twin towers. Returning this week to the Dynasty team, was also Mo “Mamba” Kala and Saleem. Saleem could be seen from a mile away, as he was sporting his new neon Curry’s; another reason why Saleem has always been a consensus 1st round pick (talent + wardrobe). The Wolves had a tough time this week, as they went winless in their first 4 games before picking up win number 1 against the Legends (a game in which they were down 6-2 and came back to win). With momentum back on their side, the Wolves looked to build on that huge comeback win against the Mambas, but unfortunately, this week would not see the Dynasty team repeat as they dropped their last game on the night 5-0 and ended the night with only 1 win. A good showing by the boys in grey but missing super sub Taher proved too much to overcome on this week, and no repeat was happening.
WEEK 9 FINALS – LEGENDS vs. SOLDIERS
Week 9’s finals pitted the Soldiers vs. the Legends in what turned out to be the chippiest game played in GBBL history. The game started off with the Legends hitting big buckets by Adeel and Baseer, putting the boys in blue up by 3. Not to be outdone, GBBL MVP candidate Zahid always finds a way to keep his team in games. Looks like the 2 weeks off in LA (and practicing at some big-time facilities out on the west coast), refined his game further and a big 3 put the Soldiers back in it. In the 2nd half of the game, the Soldiers would pull away with Arif and Zahid adding a few more buckets while Mustafa was beasting on the boards in this one, ending the night with a week high 6 rebounds. With the Soldiers up 1, confusing ensued (thanks to Riyad), who inadvertently asked to have the game clock not stop in the last 30 seconds. This is what was heard by the Soldiers, but commissioner Jav and Riyad had discussed prior and decided to stop the clock. Unfortunately, this message was not relayed and after a big-time bucket by Baseer (thanks to video replay), the clock still had 4 seconds left. Thinking they would get the ball back with 1 last chance to win, all hell broke loose with both teams arguing their case that time should either be left on or run off (thanks RR – doing a bang-up job. NOT!!!!). After the Legends decided to play the 2-minute OT instead, the commissioner was out for blood. Coming out of the timeout, Jav hit a big 3, then went in for a left-handed reverse layup. Buckets by Adeel and Umar all but sealed week 9’s champions, as the Soldiers failed to score in the OT.
Once again, the league would like to apologize to both teams for the confusion (damn you 2-week layoff) but would like to thank all those in the finals for allowing cooler heads to prevail. With that, the Legends become the newest Dynasty team but unfortunately, we’re unsure for how long. With rumors that Baseer and Omar are both not available next week, this team might have been a 1 and done; I guess we’ll find out come roll call this week. With 1 more week left to play until another 2-week layoff (sorry boys, but the courts were not available the last 2 weeks of January), GBBL is looking at putting together a 2nd 2K tournament, after the success of the 1st one. Please reach out to Jav or Riyad if you would like to participate in the NHL tournament we have planned for January 23/24. All proceeds go to Project Ramadan and prizes will be announced shortly. Finally, the league sends their warmest congrats to Tabish & Sana for welcoming a future GBBL'er this past week; baby Ameer will no doubt be a baller like his dad. Until next week Youngbloods, peace out!!!