Whats up YoungBloods and welcome back!! With 2 weeks in the books, the Legends brought back most of their team to defend their title, while adding big man Hamza to the group. With the introduction of the new intentional foul rule enforced in this week’s finals, would we see this rule take effect this week? Would the Legends continue their winning ways? Would Adeel V continue flashing his opponents? Let’s get to the action.
Captain Baseer came into the week with a clear game plan as captain and wasted no time executing it. With him banging down low, he wanted to surround himself with shooters and boy did he ever. Picking up 3 of the deadliest shooters in this league, Jav, Adeel Q and Riyad would be tasked with bringing the offense, while X-factor Adil Merchant (no relation to Ziggy) would help Baseer on the defensive side. The first few games saw Riyad & Jav shoot lights out, helping the Mambas cruise to easy wins. Games against the Soldiers and Legends would cement Baseer’s strategy, as in both games, Adeel Q (and his step back dance move shot from 3) would hit 2 buzzer beaters as time expired to claim Mamba wins. 1 less second in each game could have turned the Mambas week into an episode of Stranger Things (get it? Upside Down?). Newcomer and relative unknown, Adil Merchant was a great addition to the team (and to the league) as he was the ultimate team player with timely rebounds and kickouts to his shooters. The Mambas went 4-2 in this week’s round robin and the last game of the evening saw the Mambas rest up a bit in anticipation of the finals.
Off the back of last week’s Championship, the Legends looked to repeat. With 4 of the 5 guys coming back, the team was locked in to defend their title, but captain Hamid had some thinking to do. The 1 player missing was his 1 and only big man, Osama and with no big man on the team, the Legends would succumb to being outrebounded. With his draft pick, instead of going with more shooters, Hamid played it smart and went with the league’s gentle giant, Hamza. Replacing Osama with Hamza was a no brainer and would allow shooters like Archie and Zahid to continue to launch away, knowing Hamza would man the middle. The strategy played out well for the boys in blue with many games, the opponents had no answer for Hamza’s presence in the middle. The Legends started off strong with 2 big wins, but a buzzer beater to the Mambas and a dud against the Wolves would put the pressure on this team with 2 games remaining. Needing a win in the last game of the night or not to lose by more than 4, the always scrappy Zeed stepped up and hit a few big buckets and with that, punching the Legends ticket back to the big dance, and possibly defend their title.
Captain Umar wasted NO time (he couldn’t even spell his name correctly he was so happy) when Umar “King” Khan fell to him in this week’s draft. King Khan made his triumphant return to GBBL after a long layoff and only time would tell if he was as dominant as most of us remember him or would he be rusty from the lengthy layoff. Captain Umar proceeded to go big with his team, adding Mustafa and Tabish, while rounding out the Ballers with Mr. Marathon himself, Shahzad. On paper, the Ballers were as deadly as any team seen this year. Tabish has blossomed into one of the best big man in this league, with his vision, rebounding and scoring all going up. For those who don’t have any yet, take note as to what happens when you become a soon to be father, as Tabish is no doubt trying to impress his soon to be newborn MashaAllah. The Ballers started the night with a decent record, going 2-1-1 and gave them a fighting chance for the finals with 2 games remaining. Winning against the Wolves would have the Ballers face off against the defending champs in possibly a do or die game. With their week hanging in the balance, the Ballers ran out of gas and lost a heartbreaker to the Legends. King Khan’s return would only be for the round robin and not the championship rounds, as the Ballers would lose out to the Legends on point differential (by 2) and would be forced to sit on the sidelines again.
Captain Awais had the clearest plan of all the captains this week; the strategy was simple, build the biggest team and outrebound EVERYONE. Creating a team of quintuple towers, Adil, Irfan, Omar and Siad were not only bigs, but capable players that can do more than just rebound. The Soldiers balled out in game 1 against the Ballers, and big shots by Irfan and Siad provided the men in red with their first point of the night with a big tie. Due to time constraints, Adil was forced to have his children courtside, and the team stepped up in more ways than just playing to help their fellow Soldier. The boys were consistently seen subbing in and out and each person was taking turns babysitting (the true spirit of Brotherhood MashaAllah). Unfortunately, after game 1 and the kids were gone, the wheels fell off the Soldiers and they would drop the next 4 games. Captain Awais was doing all he can, hitting jumper after jumper, while Irfan surprised everyone by showing off his range, doing everything to keep the team competitive. Adil and Siad were playing tough, hard defense but, this week was simply not the Soldiers week. Instead of balling, they were better off babysitting on this night.
Captain Sherry’s draft strategy coming into week 3 left a few of us scratching our heads, but who are we to question Sherry. If he was one of the physically smaller guys in the league, then he needed to have the physically tallest person in the league, bringing big man Raheel on board. Rounding out the team was Mr.
11 for 11, oops, we mean Mr. 0 for 3 so far, Arif, the always dependable Fahad and last year’s comeback player of the year Hummaad. Fahad and Hummaad have now played all 3 weeks together so far and have a combined 3-15 record (very deceiving for 2 talented players). The strategy is simple next week for these 2: DO NOT PLAY TOGETHER for the next little while. The week did not start off as anticipated, with the Wolves missing Arif for game 1 and it showed. Without the big man, the Wolves dropped their 1st game against the Mambas 7-1, while also dropping game 2 to the Ballers 6-3. The turnaround would happen in game 3, as captain Sherry rallied the troops, while Raheel decided to take over, and they went on a 2-game winning streak against the defending champ Legends and the Soldiers. With a record of 2-2, the Wolves would drop their next 2 games in heartbreaking fashion (combined score of 13-11) and would all but eliminate themselves from playoff contention.
WEEK 3 FINALS – LEGENDS vs. MAMBAS
The finals pitted the Legends vs. the Mambas, with the Legends attempting to repeat as champions. These 2 teams met in the final game of the round robin, a few minutes before the finals began, and the teams had split their games coming into the finals. The Legends started off strong right out the gates, with Hamid and Hamza hitting big shots to take a 2-point lead. The Mambas would answer, with Adeel Q driving and hitting a big-time layup, but unfortunately, reigning GUT MVP Archie decided to show everyone his cool looking fadeaway and hit 2 big shots. Not to be outdone, Captain Baseer fought hard and made the score more respectable at 5-3 heading into the 2nd half. Unfortunately, this is where everything went to sh!t$ and we were no longer witnessing basketball being played, but something as far from basketball as possible. After a big shot from the corner by Jav and a big 3-pointer by Riyad, the Mambas clawed back, but Zeed scored and put the Legends up 8-7. With Baseer driving for a layup, a foul was called on the Legends, but just prior to that, an offensive foul was called on the Mambas (Ramjaun on Ramjaun crime LOL). After much discussion, everything was sorted out and the Legends took possession since Riyad had fouled 1st. With the introduction of the new intentional foul rule, no one knew exactly how to enforce it and how to appropriately conduct themselves with it. Throwing balls at people’s feet’s during the check, winning team fouling the losing team to retain possession and too much chatter and bickering brought the last 2 minutes of this finals to a grinding halt. After all the confusion was sorted, the Legends ended up holding off the Mambas (after a late turnover by Archie) and repeated as champions. The boys in blue will look to become the 1st Dynasty team next week, while the Mambas ran out of gas and were clearly playing frustrated at the end, which may have shot themselves in the foot.
Week 4 will showcase the Legends once again trying to become the 1st Dynasty of season 2. Only 1 team has won this year and it’s time to see another color with the championship. And although very early in the season, we now have 17 of the 25 regulars plus 4 of the Sub players having earned at least 1 GUT point. 3 weeks in (17% of the season), but there is still a lot of games left in the season and the GUT point standings will no doubt change.