Week 11 had a bit of everything and definitely did not disappoint. The only disappointment came from the defending champs Legends, who could not muster the same magic they had last week (this could be a result of 4 of the 5 players arriving at 8:30 on the dot or later). The Ballers took command in the round robin and essentially punched their ticket to the finals early on. The Wolves experienced a KD moment as Jav’s last second 3 was marked as a single point with a toe on the line. The Wolves also ran into a reinvigorated Riyad who went super nova and single handedly eliminated them from contention. The final game of the night pitted the Ballers vs. the Mambas. A win by the Mambas would put them through, while a loss would send the Soldiers through. With Bilal gassed and out of options, the Mambas fell 7-0 and the finals were set, the Ballers vs. the Soldiers.
The Soldiers were led this week by captain Awais Alvi who was looking to capture his first championship since back in week 1. Awais wasted no time and brought back and old but familiar face; Shehryar Qureshi finally made his return after 2 years since he last played and suffered a brutal shoulder injury. With the former DPOY candidate on board, the Soldiers went big and drafted big men Raheel Sadiq and Tabish Khan. Rounding out the boys in red was newly minted sharpshooter Saoud Ramjaun. On the other side, the Ballers this week were captained by Zahid Merchant. Zahid wasted no time and could not believe his luck when consensus number 1 overall pick Umair Vanthaliwala fell to him. Adding to his good fortune, big men Siad Badaloo and Faisal Khan further dropped to the Ballers in the draft. With 4 top tier guys on board, the boys in white got the cherry on the cake and had resident energizer bunny Shahzad Razzak drop as well. With such a stacked team, could the Soldiers take them down and win the franchises first championship this year or would the Ballers begin a new quest for a Dynasty.
The first half was a rather slow affair, with more defense and less scoring. Captain Awais was hitting his mid-range shots and the Soldiers had built a comfortable 4-1 lead with 10 seconds left. The Ballers got the ball back and at the buzzer, Umair hit a big time 3 to cut the deficit to 1 and possibly kill any momentum the Soldiers had. In the 2nd half, the Ballers came out firing and in fact did kill any momentum the Soldiers had. Multiple 3’s by captain Zahid, another 3 by Umair, and a few buckets by both Shahzad and Faisal, and the Ballers were up 11-4, going on an 8-0 run to open the 2nd half. The Soldiers would not go down, and Raheel took over by hitting some big time shots and rebounding everything he could. Tabish and Shehryar tried to do everything they could but could not match up with both Siad and Fai (who led the week with 6 rebounds). In the end, the final score looks a lot closer than how the game actually went, with the Ballers coming out on top 12-7.
With the win and 3 weeks remaining, the new look Ballers look to complete one last Dynasty to end the year. They have all the tools to do it, but as we’ve seen in the past, anything can happen on any given Tuesday. With only 3 weeks remaining and only 10 points separating 9th and 18th, there are a lot of players looking to cement themselves within the top 10 of the GUT standings and head to the All-Star game. Until then, captain Zahid and the rest of the boys in white will enjoy this victory and look to continue their winning ways next week. Stay tuned YoungBloods!!