What’s happening YoungBloods!! Season 2 of GBBL kicked off this past week and although a lot of rust could be seen throughout the court, there was also a lot of great action, including a final to remember. Who would take home the first championship of the year? With so many new players, anything was possible, and Week 1 surely did not disappoint.
Adeel Q's Mambas
Adeel started off the year by drafting an old but familiar face. Due to schooling, he was unable to join the league on a full time basis, but Saleem showed why he was such a valuable part of GBBL and why he will sorely be missed this year. Following Saleem, Adeel went with the bigger bodies and grabbed Omar and Awais while adding in the always scrappy, yet dependable Shahzad to round out his team. The Mambas started off strong with a win over the Legends in their 1st game of the season. Unfortunately, the wheels temporarily fell off as they dropped their next 2. Needing wins to qualify for the playoffs, the Mambas reeled off a 2-0-1 record in their last 3 games, including a 7-1 beat down of the Direwolves. Unfortunately, it was too little too late, as the Mambas ended in a tie with the Legends for the final playoff spot. With both teams sporting same wins and points, it came down to point differential and the Mambas were short by 2, eliminating them from the championship round.
No team faced more issues AFTER the draft than the Legends. With a stacked roster to begin with, including superstar sub Usama, the Legends found themselves short by 2 players, 30 minutes prior to game time. Not able to play with 3 players, a deal was struck between the Soldiers and Legends to send Siad to the Legends to round the team to 4. With no sub players available, the Legends would be forced to play all games while not sitting. Game 1 saw the men in blue lose a heartbreaker by 1 to the Mambas, but game 2 saw Riyad’s hot hand spark to life, and the Legends beat the Ballers 7-0. With some back and forth (including a tie in between), the Legends last game of the night pitted them against the Soldiers. In a must win situation, Siad hit a big 3 after a big time rebound from Captain Tabish to win 7-6. With the win, the boys in blue punched their ticket to the championship round on point differential.
The Ballers came in to the week, on paper, as good as any team assembled. With big man Baseer manning the middle along with Fahad, it would open up shooting lanes for Jav and Hummaad. Additionally, the Ballers boasted cheerleader extraordinaire Adeel V and his pesky defense. Things didn’t start off right for the Ballers as they dropped their first 3 games by a combined score of 18-6. Down 3 games to 0, the Ballers would need to go on a run to get into the championship rounds. Unfortunately, something just was not clicking for the Ballers on this night and they ended up dropping all their games apart from 1. Tensions were rising between teammates as the team held a number of team meetings between games to get back on track. Captain Fahad did everything he could, subbing in and out strategically, but sometimes, you have to count your losses and move on to the next week.
The Soldiers were captained by the 2018 Teammate of the Year Shehryar, who is probably the most complete player in the league. Never seeming to be tired, Sherry continuously amazes us with his passing, dribbling and defense, not to mention his ability to hit the big shot when needed. The Soldiers were one of 2 teams with no subs, after giving up Siad to the Legends, but it didn’t seem to phase them. With big man Arif and Raheel, Shehryar added the sharpshooting BSL veteran Zahid to his team. While many didn’t think too much of this team on paper, the men in red sure showed the rest of the league, by going 4-1-1 in the round robin. Their only blemish on the night was against the Legends in their final game, a game in which they led 6-3 for the most part. Even before the final round robin game occurred, the Soldiers had already punched their ticket to the championship round and would use the last round bye to rest up before gunning for the week’s championship.
Captain Umar drafted himself one of the top teams on paper this week, by snagging 2018 GUT MVP Archie, while pairing him up with big men Mustafa and Osama. Rounding out the wolves would be newcomer Neal, who many were not sure how he played. Neal proved everyone wrong right off the bat, playing tight defense while providing that spark of energy on offense. If this week’s Neal was playing at 70%, the league better take notice once he’s at 100%. The wolves split their first 3 games at 1-1-1, with Captain Umar missing most of game 1 due to his tardiness. With the wolves struggling, they turned to the reigning MVP for his offense, but on this night, Archie could not hit much, as he could be seen frustrated at himself at missing shot after shot. With the week coming to an end, the Wolves played the Mambas in the final round robin game, and with a win and some luck on the point differential, they would qualify. Unfortunately, a last-minute buzzer beater by the Mambas eliminated the wolves, sending Captain Umar and MVP Archie to the bench, to ponder how to shake off the rust.
WEEK 1 FINALS – LEGENDS vs. SOLDIERS
Both teams entered the finals, playing with only 4 guys and no subs. Both teams looked gas prior to tip off, and the teams split the round robin games 1 apiece. This had all the makings of a slow, low scoring and uneventful finals between 2 teams that were physically done for the night. But with so much at stake, both teams came out firing, with the Legends scoring 2 quick baskets from Usama. Not to be outdone, Zahid kept the Soldiers in the game with some timely shooting. Near the end of the 1st half, Legends sharpshooter Riyad hit a big shot just inside the line, while captain Tabish was crashing the boards, sending the Legends to a comfortable 11-5 lead. The 2nd half proved just why you never stop playing, as the Soldiers kept fighting with rebound after rebound from Arif and Raheel. The final 3 minutes of the finals pitted 2 BSL veterans going at it as Riyad (3 3 pointers) and Zahid (5 3 pointers) kept trading 3-point buckets. The Soldiers pulled within 2 with 30 seconds to go. Off a miss, Siad corralled the rebound and sent it out to Riyad for the dagger, but a miss gave the Soldiers 1 more life with 10 seconds to go. Off the inbound, Arif opened up a lane for Shehryar who took the shot. Off the miss, big man Raheel grabbed the rebound and instead of sending it back out, went up for a layup as the clock sounded. With that, the Legends defeated the Soldiers in a thrilling back and forth affair 16-15 to claim Season 2’s 1st championship.