With 5 weeks left to play, the league was reset back to no dynasty this week, as the Archie led Mambas completed their Dynasty last week. Entering week 14, the league had 20 players coming back and instead of running 5 teams of 4, league management made the decision for this week only, to have 4 teams of 5 instead, and “bench” the Ballers for losing in such grand fashion in the finals last week. With 4 brand new teams, and 5 weeks left, guys were all vying for a spot in the finals and possibly the weekly championship. GUT point standings are taking shape and with so little time left, these last few weeks are now essential weeks for many in the league looking to punch their ticket to the All-Star game. With only 4 teams this week, there would be no bye games, but players would have the ability to rest in between games for a few more minutes than usual.
After captaining his team to the Dynasty and putting on a performance for the ages last week, Archie was called back to captaincy this week and looked to put together a new Dynasty. Leading the Mambas, Archie’s strategy for drafting was super easy; draft the biggest and tallest team possible, and he could be free to shoot at will, knowing his team would clean up all the rebounds. Archie quickly surrounded himself with big men Hamza, Raheel and Tabish to ensure no other team had anyone close to the height advantage his team would have. Rounding out the Mambas this week was pesky defender and all-around player Neal, which on paper, if we had to choose 1 team going into the week with a slight advantage, would be given to the men in black. Unfortunately, the strategy did not pay off and the Mambas were cold right out of the gate. Archie could not find his hot hand from last week, and the Mambas (although were rebounding everything), could not finish at the rim, while other teams were making all their shots. 3 quick losses out of the gate, essentially eliminated the Mambas before the 2nd half of games were played. Knowing they would need to win out their last 3 to even have a chance, the Mambas regrouped and beat the Soldiers in game 4; but this would be their only win on the night, as the Mambas dropped their next 2, finishing with a record of 1-5 on the night. A visibly frustrated Archie could be seen on the sidelines, while the rest of the team were left with what could have been, as this team had all the makeup to form a new Dynasty had they just clicked.
Captain Zahid took reigns of the Legends this week as he looked to get himself back to the top of GUT mountain, as his place at the top was finally displaced by Arif. Wasting no time, Zahid quickly grabbed 2 key players that were huge contributors to the Mambas Dynasty in Siad and Shahzad. Siad has turned into a top player in this league as he is now showing his full ability playing injury free, as he can rebound, hit the midrange and has turned into 1 of the better long-range shooters in this league. Shahzad continues to amaze everyone at his hustle and heart, not to mention his ability to always get open and hit a 3 when needed. Zahid then decided to pair his 2 Dynasty winners with 2 shooters/playmakers in Adeel and Fahad, 2 players that are highly coveted and can create their own shots. Lacking size in comparison to other teams this week, captain Zahid did what any good captain would do and begin working on game plans. The boys in blue could be seen between every game strategizing and coming up with new plays to get guys open. Unfortunately, the Legends were off to a slow start, with a 1-1-1 record heading into the 2nd half. Ever the leader he is, Zahid quickly regrouped his boys and the team went undefeated for the rest of the night with an additional 2 wins and 1 tie, punching their ticket into this week’s finals. With 3 guys in the top 6 of GUT points, these guys were ready to add to their totals this week.
Awais made his return to GBBL after a week away and was positioned as captain this week. Trying to shake things up for himself, Awais moved away from drafting his running mate Riyad, and went a different route on the night. The Captain decided to surround himself with high basketball IQ guys, and quickly snagged up Jav, Hamid, Arif & Omar. All 4 of these guys are high IQ guys who know how to play the game and how to play unselfishly. Jav has turned into one of the better playmakers in this league this year (not to mention his shooting has been lights out), while Hamid “Brown Chocolate” Malik (reference to White chocolate J Williams) could potentially have the best ball handling skills in the league. Rounding out the team, Arif & Omar are both proven winners, having been on Dynasties this year, and know how to get open or get their guys the ball, all while cleaning up all the garbage down low. Game 1 didn’t start off as planned, as the Soldiers were still trying to figure things out and dropped a key game to the undermanned Wolves. Fortunately for them, the Soldiers soldiered on and destroyed the next 2 teams to the tune of 14-3 heading into the 2nd half games. Not sure what happened, but the Soldiers could not gel anymore in the 2nd half. Passes were hitting each other in the face, while shots were not falling, and no one was trying to rebound. What started off as a promising week for this team, the Soldiers would not win a game for the rest of the night and could be seen sitting on the other side of the court with their heads hanging, trying to figure out what went wrong.
The Wolves were captained by big man Baseer this week and he wasted no time in selecting super sub Saleem with his 1st pick. Having to wait around for awhile until his next picks, Baseer was surprised that MIP candidate Umar and sharpshooter Riyad were still available. Rounding out his team for the week was Mamba Kala; Mo has turned a corner in the past few weeks and is playing with much more confidence and draining his shots. Prior to tip off, the Wolves were shorthanded as Saleem was nowhere to be found. Frantically calling him, his response was “When all hope is lost, he will make his grand entrance” LOL. Fortunately for the Direwolves, the 4 that did show up played their hearts out and beat the Soldier 7-2. Saleem did in fact make his grand entrance for game 2 and the boys in grey were now at full force. With Baseer and Mo doing all the dirty work inside, that left playmakers and shooters like Saleem, Umar & Riyad to have free reign. All the guys were hitting their shots on the night, and except for 1 lost to the Legends, the boys in grey went undefeated on the night with a record of 4-1-1. As many bystanders mentioned, the Wolves just gelled as a team this week, and captain Baseer was pushing heavily for a lot of ball movement. The Wolves could be seen making pass after pass after pass until someone was open (didn’t hurt that they were making their shots as well), and with the top record on the night, the boys in grey punched their way into this week’s finals.
WEEK 14 FINALS – Legends vs Direwolves
Week 14’s finals had the Legends facing off against the Direwolves. The teams split their first game on the night, while the Legends handed the Wolves their only loss on the night. Would history repeat itself or did the Wolves learn from their loss to the Legends? Playing on their strength of ball movement, the Wolves wasted no time this week, as the combination of Saleem and Umar ran rampant over the Legends in the first half of the finals. A quick 3 by Saleem followed by another big 3 by Riyad, and just like that the Wolves were up 4-0. Umar decided to join the fray and was all over the court, hitting his patented mid-range shot. By the end the first half, the Wolves were up 9-1 and were feeling very confident on their chances to win this week. With a never say die attitude, captain Zahid regrouped his team during the intermission, drawing up plays to get himself and his guys open. Whatever was drawn up, started to work, as the Legends came out of the gate on fire. 3 straight 3’s by Zahid, Siad and Shahzad, cut the deficit from 8 to 2 points. With time left on the clock, the Legends were so focused on scoring, their rebounding fell off, as Baseer and Riyad were grabbing everything under the boards. Saleem and Umar did their switch-a-roo (guys were getting confused with them), and Saleem hit a big time 3, while Umar hit a big bucket to put the Direwolves up for good. With 1 second left on the clock and down 3, the Legends did all they could, but fell short this week, while the Wolves could be seen celebrating their win.
With week 14 wrapped up, the GUT point standings continue to take shape with now only 4 weeks of games left. With the final’s appearance, Zahid has overtaken Arif for the league lead at 79 points, while Baseer continues to climb up the standings with 64 points. What will be interesting to keep an eye out is there is only 10 points separating 8th and 13th and 1 weekly win guarantees you a minimum 7 points (not to mention your own contributions), so it really is still up in the air as to who will finish in the top 10 this year. What will be worrisome for the rest of the league is will the Wolves comeback to defend their title? This team looked dangerous all night and could have the makings of a new Dynasty. With so much on the line, and with so little time left, the last few weeks will no doubt be an exciting time for GBBL.
On a final note, the GBBL shop is now open and season 2 merchandise has now been dropped. For those who have not but want to, please complete the order form and send in your request. All proceeds will be donated to the leagues charity (Project Ramadan), and early bird orders will end on March 13th. Get yours before it’s too late!!!