Crossover Basketball League (SE3)
Playoff – Finals, Game 2
@ SUTD sports complex
E.B.I vs Yong Seng: 75 – 64
As expected the second game of the best-of-three Finals series turned out to be the most intense contest of the season. Entourage Basketball Inc. showed resilience under pressure while showcasing the squad’s depth, thus putting the finishing touches on their second straight Crossover League title.
Mid January, pre-season: Shek Wong, one of the league’s organisers mentioned in passing to the E.B.I. club manager that the coach of last season’s 2nd-place team, Hougang CCMC, had secured sponsorship for his team and had but one goal in the upcoming championship: defeat Entourage Basketball Inc.
Under a new name, Yong Seng, and with 4 or 5 quality players added, the Season 2 finalists romped through the season, finishing with a 10-0 record in the regular season. A close Game 6 win against a slightly undermanned E.B.I. team, the reigning champs, seemed to highlight the team’s dominance on the way to the playoffs.
Dave, E.B.I’s manager, used this as a personal motivation for the entire season, never mentioning the tidbit to the team or player-coach Jean Jacques. After going 9-1 to end the regular season, all while dealing with low participation numbers in practice, the roster chose the perfect time to regain the dominant form of last season: the season four playoffs.
Winning the quarter and semifinals in convincing fashion, the entire roster showed up at the pre-finals practice sessions, highly focused on the battle ahead. The practice before the Game 1-win was one of the best of the year, and the game 2 prep proved just as vital, with injured players like Jerel and Chi showing up to support the mission to repeat as champs. Video scouting was also utilised to gain insight before the second finals match. #missionrepeat
Prepared for anything Yong Seng could throw at them, team E.B.I got off to a blazing start, quickly leading 23-9 in the first quarter. The lead was never relinquished
Not that their opponent’s, specifically one of the new additions to the Yong Seng squad, didn’t try EVERYTHING in their power to stop the men in black and green. Already known for his unsportsmanlike play while he was on last season’s team “Average Joes”, the small guard was hellbent on causing mayhem, mostly against his favourite target, E.B.I. topscorer Jerel.
Repeated hard fouls, undercuts and questionable actions did nothing to disrupt Jerel’s offense, but a shove that sent the american sprawling out-of-bounds nearly caused the EntourageBBall bench to clear. Tempers flared with the reigning champions’ interim coach attempting to “have words” with the grinning assailant in the chaos that ensued.
Once the game resumed, the momentum swung to the team in yellow. Yong Seng’s guards, played to their strenghts, slashing and kicking the ball to open shooters, while also getting more foul calls by the referees. In a four minute stretch in the third quarter, the refs blew their whistles on 6 straight Yong Seng posessions, a frustrating period for veteran E.B.I. point guard Javier, who had to leave the court early with his 5th personal foul
During this stretch of play, something…… wondrous happened: each E.B.I. player increased his level of play. From Terence driving through traffic to finish contested layups, to player-coach JJ hitting key shots and playing spot minutes at power forward, the team’s depth shone through.
The unsung hero of the first finals game had been Chi, but in the decider, long-time Entourage teammate Ronnie, usually known for his discreet offensive output (and versatility) went beserk on offense. Scoring in a fantastic variety of ways while defending the opponent’s best wing players, the man seemed possessed with the spirit of Michael Jordan in Game 1 of the 1992 NBA Finals.
And so, the defending Champions weathered any runs their opponents could muster, even extending their lead to double-digits. Partially overwhelmed refeeres, flopping defenders, some WWE-inspired moments and lots of loud exchanges did not faze EntourageBBall Inc.
The final thirty seconds of the game were surreal: the lead was insurmountable, the E.B.I. bench squad stood quietly, some cherishing the moment, others pacing wildly, the players oncourt watching the game clock tick down, and as the final buzzer to their season went off: bedlam.
The back-to-back champions’ manager assembled the men and told them about the opposing coach’s early-season statement. “We are going to beat E.B.I. this season.”
After going unbeaten only to lose their last two games of the season, it is safe to say: he failed.
Finals Game 2
Starters: Chi, Ronnie, Lester, Alex and Jean Baptiste
Reserves: Jerel, Amir, Terence, JJ, Dave, Javier and Mike