SEASON 44
PLAYOFFS
 

By: League Analyst
Contributing Writer

BRONZE DIVISION

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#4 IHOB (4-4)  vs. #5 Public Enemy (2-6)
BRONZE DIVISION

 

Rookie season didn't go as planned for Public Enemy but that could change with an upset as they take on IHOB for a Wild Card match-up. The winning team will take on Eazy Money, a team that went 7-1 in their rookie season. IHOB won't have the services of 2 of their backcourt players as the Lecesne Brothers are out of town in the Bahamas. Will Public Enemy capitalize on IHOB's depleted roster?

 

"1-2-3... Cabo!"

Players to Watch for:

Arvin Delapaz, IHOB. Arvin is in the running for Most Improved and his focus on defense translated to 1.3 bpg, 1.9 spg, all team-highs. Arvin Delapaz is averaging 10.1 ppg, 2.4 apg. He's played his best games when he's having fun and the team has to play with no pressure because that's when they're most vulnerable. Richard Morales is averaging 11.4 ppg, 7.6 rpg while rookie Mo Hamdullah is averaging 11.4 ppg, 7.6 rpg. They're losing out on a combined 16.2 ppg from the Lecesne Brothers so the rest of the team need to step up.

Keys to Win:

Public Enemy is on a 4 game losing streak. They're struggling at the wrong time but on the bright side, they have players who are capable of carrying the scoring load for the rookie franchise. Noel Marquez, a player who plays in Gold Division's Tune Squad, is averaging 11.6 ppg, 1.4 spg. Renzo Munoz is averaging 10.5 ppg while GM Joseph Flores is scoring 9.4 ppg. Their opponents are missing 2 of their fastest players and Public Enemy has a big enough bench to wore out their opponents.

WINNING TEAM takes on #1 team, Eazy Money (7-1)
 

 

#2 United (5-3)  vs. #3 Relentless (4-4)
BRONZE DIVISION

 

Relentless have won 3 straight and have been gelling just in time for the Playoffs. Unfortunately, they take on United, a team that has won 4 straight games. Experience is heavily in favor of United's side and this is a tough match-up for BOTH teams. United swept the season-series, 2-0 but in the Playoffs, anything is possible.

Players to Watch for:

In the Playoffs, you never wanna get too high or too low. Relentless play with a lot of emotions and GM Ruben Ramirez (4.4 ppg, 3.0 apg) needs to have his team play with poise. Pressure intensifies especially in late-game situations and many are wondering how  one of the division's best players, Joel Contreras (18.9 ppg, 2.0 bpg) will play under pressure. Expect veteran Center Tony Gonzalez (10.6 ppg, 8.3 rpg) to play well under pressure.

Keys to Win:

United swept the season-series and they have plenty of experience playing together. Despite being rookies in Superstar Basketball, United's team chemistry is unparalleled and they are one of the favorites to take it home in Bronze Division. Chris Avila is averaging a team-high, 19.0 ppg, 7.8 rpg. "Iso Joe" Joseph Molina is averaging 13.5 ppg, 1.8 spg while Joe Flores is scoring 10.8 ppg. Last season's Defensive Player of the Season, Wilson Parrales, is averaging 4.0 apg, 4.6 ppg.

 

GOLD DIVISION

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#8 Chicle (4-4) vs #10 Heat Check (3-5)
GOLD DIVISION

 

Chicle has gone on record to say they'll be missing 2 of their key starters in Jay Tapang (8.0 ppg, 1.8 spg) and All Star Center, Danny Villalobos (20.8 ppg). Is GM Chris Duran bluffing or will the former Bronze Division Champions play the 1st round with a depleted roster. CJ "Nitro" Pang averaged 14.8 ppg, 4.3 apg while Mike Trout scored 9.0 ppg in 5 games.

Players to Watch for:

Whether Chicle has a full roster or not, Heat Check's Kyle Price is ready for Playoff action and the rookie shap-shooter average a team-high, 17.6 ppg, 5.0 rpg. Kyle led the team with 28 three-pointers, an area he shot 38.9% from. Isaiah Watson averaged 15.0 ppg while Ryan White logged a double-double with 14.5 ppg, 10.2 rpg.

 

#7 Bullets (4-4) vs #10 Fire Squad (3-5)
GOLD DIVISION

 

Both teams have struggled late in the season with Bullets losing 4 straight games. Fire Squad, former Champions, have lost 5 straight after starting the season with a 3-0 record.

 

Brandon Ortiz averaged 23.3 ppg on 50.3% shooting while Cyree Dunnel averaged 16.3 ppg, 4.5 rpg. Center Steven David scored 6.5 ppg, 7.5 rpg while GM Otto Guillermo averaged 13.1 ppg, 4.7 rpg. 

Players to Watch for:

Bullets are better than their record and their peers are surprised their recover is hovering at .500. Sal Escandon led the team in scoring with 22.6 ppg, while Marcus Eggum averaged 12.0 ppg in 5 games. Rick Gutierrez averaged 15.4 ppg, 10 rpg while last season's Defensive Player of the Season, Wilson Parrales, averaged 4.6 apg, 3.1 rpg. The team from Boyle Heights is tired of playing for accolades and their intention was to play for a Championship. The time has come and GM Daniel Donato needs to have the team locked in or it could be another early exit for Boyle Heights team, Bullets.

 

#6 East LA Dream Team (5-3) vs #11 Empire (3-5)
GOLD DIVISION

 

Both teams are stacked with talent. Both teams have players capable of taking over and both teams could have gone deep into the Playoffs. Unfortunately, their 1st Round match-up will end one team's journey and former 3-time Champions, East LA Dream Team, could struggle against Empire.

 

Will a full roster, Empire is a dangerous team. "Big O" Oliver Amajoyi averaged 14.4 ppg while Belachew Dinari scored 11.8 ppg. Khalil Dukes averaged 15.3 ppg as the team's leading scorer while GM Will Torres scored 11.6 ppg, 5.7 rpg. If East LA Dream Team doesn't have a full roster and Empire does, it could be an upset in the making.

Players to Watch for:

"Best Shooter in America", Derrick Tamanaha has been shooting lights out on Thursday AND Sunday. He is averaging 16.3 ppg on 51.1% shooting while Ever Garcia leads the team with 20 ppg in 6 games this season. Tim Austin averaged 21 ppg in 2 games while Brandon Andrew scored 10 ppg, 7.0 rpg. With a full roster, East LA Dream Team has been considered a Platinum Division team. It all depends on management as Reyes Cervantes and Mario Miramontes lead East LA Dream Team on another title run.

 

#5 Goons (5-3) vs #12 Hennyboyz (2-6)
GOLD DIVISION

 

Hennyboyz finished their rookie season with a 3 game losing streak as 2 players led the team in double-digit scoring. GM Austin Garzon averaged 11.1 ppg while Jairo Velasquez averaged a team-high, 12.3 ppg. Hennyboyz averaged 56.3 ppg as a unit and 10.1 apg. The addition of Gio Gordon (8.3 ppg) gave Hennyboyz a reliable post presence late in the season. Will it be enough against a talented team in Goons?

Players to Watch for:

JT Roach could single-handedly beat Hennyboyz and the rookie stand-out averaged 30.8 ppg on 49.1% shooting. Look for JT to involve his teammate much like he did on Week 8 when Jermaine Jackson went off against Fire Squad. Jermaine averaged 21.7 ppg as the second leading scorer while Ty Jackson scored 19.3 ppg on 44% shooting. GM Juious Patin averaged 5.2 ppg while Caleb Oviedo averaged 9.5 ppg.

 

#4 Winners Only (6-2) vs #13 Stay Up (2-6)
GOLD DIVISION

 

Stay Up is better than their record but with so many events, GM Tyler Su is having a difficult time having his team focus on their current season. After starting the season with a 2-0 record, Stay Up have lost 6 straight. Playoff P averaged 17.8 ppg while Gabe Rodriguez averaged 18.7 ppg on 34.5% shooting. Kevin Price averaged 16.8 ppg, 11.8 rpg while Marcus Cater led the division in blocks per game, averaging 3.0 bpg to go along with 12.4 rpg, 12.6 ppg.

Players to Watch for:

While Stay up has the slight advantage in terms of talent, team chemistry and focus heavily favor Winners Only. After finishing with a 2-6 record last season, the team re-group with Jeriko Santos (7.6 ppg, 2.9 apg) at the helm and GM Isaac Berliner (6.1 ppg, 5.8 rpg) at the forefront looking for a culture change. Braxton averaged 15.2 ppg on 47.3% shooting while Aaron De Anda, a Rookie of the Season candidate, averaged 19.5 ppg.

 

 

#3 Below The Rim (7-1) vs #14 Fuerza (2-6)
GOLD DIVISION

 

The last time these 2 teams faced, Fuerza struggled to have 4 players suited up. Last season in the Playoffs, Fuerza only had 4 players suited up in the 1st Round. In the Playoffs against Below The Rim, will Fuerza repeat this trend of playing with just 4 players?

 

Players to Watch for:

Darryl Alexander, Below The Rim GM, is making a case at Defensive Player of the Season, and he averaged 7.0 rpg, 1.9 spg. Jason Fisk led the division in 3-pointers with 40 three's en route to 18.5 ppg while Lupe Pena averaged 9.1 ppg. The player to watch is Kimani Lane, a guaranteed Poker Champion if he ever picked up a deck of cards. Kimani has been bluffing and fooling everyone this whole season as a Gold Division player, averaging just 23.0 ppg. Playing to his full potential in Platinum Division against Killmonger last week, Kimani finished with 31 points on 66.7% shooting in a Platinum Division elimination game. He's been holding back this whole time and the rest of Gold Division needs to be put on notice.

Keys to Win:

Fuerza needs to play with poise and not let officials get in the way of their game plan. GM Abner Rodriguez averaged 16.9 ppg on 43.8% shooting while Isaiah Grant averaged 17.3 ppg, a team-high. Center Tim Contreras logged a double-double with 13.5 ppg, 11.0 rpg while Pancho Francisco scored 9.3 ppg on 61.5% shooting. As long as the team shows up with more than 4, Fuerza should be competitive against Below The Rim.
 

#2 Tune Squad (7-1) vs #15 The Rock Foundation (2-6)
GOLD DIVISION

 

Defending Champions, Tune Squad, have won 4 straight. Led by Reigning MVP, Vince Rodriguez III averaged 14.8 ppg on 40.6% shooting. Vince ranked 1st in steals with 2.1 spg and averaged 4.6 apg. Ismael Arellano ranked 2nd in 3-pointers made with 37 and he averaged 18.6 ppg on 53.1% shooting. Jeff Briegel has been their consistent post player and he averaged 11.9 ppg on 68.1% shooting.

Players to Watch for:

If The Rock Foundation play as a unit, they'll have a fighting chance against the Defending Champions. If they play iso ball and limited defense, Tune Squad advances. Their imo in the first 3 games was ball movement and Jerry Tennison (2.8 apg) leads the team in assists. David Munoz averaged a team-high, 18.9 ppg while Ed Principe averaged 11.4 ppg on 36.7% shooting. Kassah Kantiok's (4.0 ppg) defense will be heavily relied on as The Rock Foundation look to shock Gold Division with a win over the Reigning Champs.

 

#1 Playas Only (8-0) vs #16 Sleepers (1-7)
GOLD DIVISION

 

Playas Only finished their rookie season with a perfect season as MVP and GM of the Season, Jason Rodriguez, led the team with 21.6 ppg on 46.7% shooting. Miguel Salazar averaged 16.0 ppg while Steven Davila, a clutch small forward, averaged 17.6 ppg. "Captain Hook" Andrew Delatorre averaged 12.6 ppg on 45.8% shooting while Center Will Manea averaged 8.7 rpg. Their opponents judged Playas Only on the surface for being small and paid the price for it.

Players to Watch for:

Word on the street is Sleepers might only have 4 players suited up again. Rookie of the Season favorite, Damon Sullivan, averaged a division-high, 33.6 ppg on 49.2% shooting. Sullivan also led Gold in rebounding with 12.0 rpg and his PER of 294 ranked 1st in Gold. Jordan Frazier averaged 11.0 ppg in 3 games while Sameer Bhatt averaged 7.2 ppg on 31.8% shooting.

 

 

PLATINUM DIVISION

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#4 Flint Tropics (5-3)  vs. #5 Underdogs (4-3)
PLATINUM DIVISION

 

Earlier in the week, Flint Tropics felt they should have been a higher seed. Anthony Farmer, Rookie of the Season candidate, was upset with Beast Tribe and Powerball passing them up in the rankings. A closer look at the brackets... show that Underdogs have a depleted roster and Flint Tropics have the EASIEST route going to the Semifinals. Underdogs likely won't have the services of Matt Austin and last weekend, Underdogs barely had 5 players suited up.

Players to Watch for:

Dream Hayes, Flint Tropics. A Defensive Player of the Season candidate, Dream is averaging a team-high, 14.4 rpg, 1.4 spg, 1.3 apg. Dream is scoring 15.9 ppg while Anthony Farmer leads Flint Tropics with 18.6 ppg, 2.0 apg. The duo have some help in Corey Shorts (9.7 ppg) and Myke Deas (12.8 ppg, 3.5 rpg) and Flint Tropics shouldn't be taken lightly. The team plays with a chip on their shoulder and their coaching has been exceptional under Anthony Farmer.

Keys to Win:

It's unknown what the Underdogs roster will look like. Earlier in the week, Matt Austin (15.4 ppg, 10.2 rpg) said he was unavailable but things may have changed. GM Shaun Weeks (12.2 ppg) has been mute with the roster since last week. Kimani Lane (31.0 ppg) played in just 1 game but Underdogs were only scheduled 7 games this season. An 8th game would have given Kimani his 2nd game of the season.

 

 

#3 Beast Tribe (5-3)  vs. #6 Entourage (4-4)
PLATINUM DIVISION

 

The Defending Champions may have done everyone a favor by not having Michael Cox (28 ppg) suit up a second game. It may have been too easy for Beast Tribe, a team many felt only had a 4% chance of beating the 20x Champions, Relics last season. Defending the throne came with adversity as Beast Tribe lost 3 games, 1 via forfeit. They take on Entourage, a team that was written off earlier in the season but bounced back with a 4 game winning streak.

Players to Watch for:

Teacher vs. Student.

Master vs Prodigy.

CJ Johnson vs. CJ Cooper.

CJ was lighting it up against The Heights last weekend and for the season, he averaged 18.8 ppg, a team-high. CJ led Entourage with 26 three-pointers while shooting 40.6% from the field. TA Dixon averaged 16.4 ppg while JP Ramirez scored 12.5 ppg, 3.5 rpg. With a full roster, Entourage shocked unsuspecting victims (Relics) earlier in the season but against the Defending Champions, Entourage is a huge underdog.

Keys to Win:

Beast Tribe doesn't age and with their players well into their late 30's, most teams strategize on running circles around them. Oh Deng made that mistake last week and CJ Johnson had 2 dunks on Oh Deng while scoring a game-high, 27 points on 61.1% shooting. Jason Harris led the team with 20.0 ppg, 4.9 rpg while Trayvon Bash averaged 7.2 ppg, 5.4 rpg.

 

 

#2 Powerball (5-3)  vs. #7 Relics (4-4)
PLATINUM DIVISION

 

If any upsets are happening in the 1st Round of the Platinum Division Playoffs, the likelihood starts in the last 2 games of the 1st Round. Powerball demolished Relics in their previous match-up but 20x Champions, Relics, played without former MVP, Roderick Evans-Taylor. With Rod back in town from an East Coast swing, look for Relics to exact revenge from Week 8's 1-sided affair.

 

Players to Watch for:

Roderick Evans-Taylor. Powerball made 20x Champions Relics look old on Week 8, because well... they are old. Inject youth and energy in Roderick Evans-Taylor and you have a balanced roster of athleticism, veteran savvy ness and 3-point shooting. Rod averaged 26.8 ppg, 8.5 rpg while Nick Sanderson averaged 14.3 ppg, 2.6 rpg. Terrence Martin, Superstar Basketball coverboy, averaged 3.4 apg, 6.6 ppg. Although he reluctantly ate humble pie on Week 8, he won't be so hungry come playoff time.

Keys to Win:

Powerball played with a lot of passion and their defense took Relics out of the contest. Geoff Vaughns led Platinum Division in steals with 2.0 spg and he averaged 2.3 apg, 11.8 ppg. Mike Peters, an All Star and Player of the Week earlier this season, averaged 16.4 ppg while Dell Well averaged 16.0 ppg. The Center position favors Powerball as Center Ernest Vannorsdell, one of the leading shot-blockers with 1.2 bpg, averaged 8.0 ppg, 5.6 rpg.

 

 

#1 The Heights (6-2)  vs. #8 Oh Deng (3-5)
PLATINUM DIVISION

 

Will the division's best team, The Heights, have enough against rookie team, Oh Deng? Word around social media is Reigning 2x Regular Season/All Star MVP won't be with The Heights in the 1st Round and Oh Deng has the personnel to upset the former 3-time Champions. Will this be the biggest upset of Season 44 Playoffs?

Players to Watch for:

Zach Hinton, Oh Deng. Arguably the best big man in the league, the All Star rookie Center averaged 26.0 ppg, 15.0 rpg on 63.1% shooting. Dominick Campbell averaged 19.1 ppg, 2.3 apg and led the division with 38 three-pointers. Oh Deng is equipped with weapons on the wings notably Jay Pena who averaged 18.5 ppg on 62.2% shooting. High-flyer Sammie Archer averaged 12.5 ppg in 6 games while Val Renteria averaged 12.0 ppg.

Keys to Win:

With Ryan Carter arriving at 6 p.m. at LAX, it's 99.9% he will miss the 1st Round unless GM Min Park is picking him up in China, himself. The Heights is surprisingly deep and they might have enough to get by Oh Deng in the 1st Round without the services of their MVP. Isaiah Watson averaged 14.0 ppg while "Bama" Jarrell Tate averaged 22.1 ppg, 6.1 rpg. Michael Munoz has been shooting lights out on Thursday Night Summer Showcase and he averaged 12.4 ppg. Buddha Boyd is capable of big games and in 4 games, he averaged 12.0 ppg, 6.5 rpg.