VBL Winter League Preseason
Last Saturday, January 26, 2013 the VBL kicked off its 2nd annual Winter League at Oakwood Gym in Venice. The gym was filled with old and new faces, highflyers and ball handlers, VBL youngsters and VBL legends. By 10:00 am, the court was overtaken by the KVBL for drills, clinics and scrimmages. The KVBL is open to all and will take place every Saturday starting at 10!
The first preseason game introduced two new teams to the VBL:
Jump Fitness USA vs. Ladera Park All-Stars
Jump Fitness USA, coached by Greg Gioiosa, is one of the top teams from the WCBL. Their team is comprised of recent college graduates with impressive resumes in the basketball industry. They were led by a solid performance from Derrick O’Neal (15 pts, 5 reb, 6 ast, 3 stl, 1 blk, 67%fg, 50%3pt). For most of the game, Jump Fitness seemed to be in control thanks to their height and physical play. However, Ladera Park made a comeback late in the 2nd half and cut their deficit to just four points. Coming out of a timeout in the 4th quarter, the All-Stars began to play lockdown defense creating points off fast breaks and knocking down open 3-pointers, led by Anthony Davis (game high 6 3-pt made). Jump Fitness was quick to respond and fought fire with fire, giving the All-Stars a taste of their own team defense. Coach G’s team pulled away at the end and took the W in an 81-67 victory. After their performance on Saturday, Jump Fitness USA looks to be an early season favorite.
The second preseason game of the day highlighted two long tenured VBL teams:
Venice Beach Warriors vs. United Nations
The Beach Warriors, defending Summer League Champions, are back to continue their reign over the VBL. The team is made up of the best local street ballers that scouts have yet to find. The Warriors are led by AJ Harris aka The Chosen 1, who just so happened to have his own version of the historical MJ ’92 season and LBJ aka The Chosen One ’12 season (minus the gold medals). In 2012, AJ received the honors of Stand Out Player of the VBL Winter League, Summer League MVP, and Finals MVP. This past Saturday, AJ struggled with his shot, but still managed to fill up the stat sheet and lead his team to victory. He finished with 19 pts, 8 reb, 7 ast, 5 stls. His teammate, the big lefty, Richard Nolan, gave a strong supporting performance with 14 pts and 10 reb on 88% shooting. The game was back and forth with several lead changes. United Nations, known for being the underdog team full of free agents, is capable of an upset on any given day. UN’s efforts were led by several crucial 3-pointers late in the game along with their top performer, Donald Lee (16 pts, 15 reb, 2 ast, 1 blk, 1 stl, 73%fg). UN fell short in the end, but their team chemistry will become stronger as the season progresses and they are sure to pick up a couple more stellar free agents. The Beach Warriors had an uncharacteristic sloppy game. The will look have a stronger game in Week 1 when they have their full roster in play. Final score: BW – 88 over UN – 81
Sunblock vs. White Collars
Sunblock, led by Gil Llewellyn aka Crackers & Cheese and Ryan Pickering aka Cable Guy, showed up to the gym on Saturday with a newly constructed team. First reaction to this team: They are way too small! To my surprise, their backcourt was beyond impressive and practically shutdown the gym. Sunblock had three outstanding performances on the books coming from, Deshawn Patterson aka DPatt (33 pts, 7 reb, 3 stl), Shanes Aguilar who was one rebound short of a triple double (17 pts, 9 reb, 10 ast, 3 stl) and the top scorer of the day Brandon Pownes (41 pts, 8 reb, 5 ast, 3 stl, 63%fg, 57%3pt). Sunblock was slow out of the gate and White Collars took full advantage. White Collars, led by team captain Tyler Carr aka That 70’s Show (12 pts, 6 reb, 6 ast, 2 stl), also had a different look to their team with several new faces. They had two guys who held it down, Jaquain Weary (24 pts, 10 reb, 4 ast, 65%fg, 67%3pt) and Jim Shepherd who was lights out from every on the court (29 pts, 5 reb, 5 ast, 2 stl, 67%fg, 45%3pt), but it was easy to see that this team lacked chemistry. After a quick start with great shooting from Jim, the White Collars began cooling down and Sunblock’s guards quickly took over the game. Sunblock ran White Collars out the gym and possibly the Winter League in a high scoring win, 116-98.
Weekly standout Players :
AJ Harris aka The Chosen 1 — Beach Warriors
Brandon Pownes — Sunblock
Shanes Aguilar — Sunblock
Donald Lee — United Nations
Jim Shepherd — United Nations