Cinderellas Prevail in VBL Semifinals

The 2017 Venice Basketball League (“VBL”) Playoffs are in full swing, as this week saw a pair of semifinal games to determine the teams who will face off on August 13th for the VBL Finals. The morning began with a #ChurchOfHoops Kids Venice Basketball Clinic hosted by an all-star lineup of NBA Pro Larry Sanders, fitness trainer Andia Wilson, Capoeira master Raiul Sampa, and VBL CEO Nick Ansom.

 

By the time the afternoon rolled around, it was time for some good old fashioned playoff action!

7-Seed Los Fearless Advances with Win Over Pro Shot West

The action wasn’t over on the VBL court. Next up was 4-seeded Pro Shot West vs. the 7-seed Los Fearless, who needed to win a play-in game to even make the final VBL bracket. Pro Shot West went small for this game, relying on speedy guard play from team captain Meezy, shooting guard Drew Bournes, and swingman The Anchor to take advantage of relatively weak perimeter players on Los Fearless.

Los Fearless was locked in from the start, often taking huddling on the court during timeouts instead of returning to their bench. Pro Shot West fired out of the gate and jumped to a quick 13-2 lead, as they typically do, but Los Fearless continued to grind on both ends of the court, putting together a 10-1 run in the latter part of the first to take a 14-13 game into quarter two.

To counter Pro Shot West’s speed, Los Fearless relied on a huge play from their twin towers – Steroid Ambassador and Hugo Boss – and their fearsome shooting forward Motherland, who utilized a lopsided matchup with Pro Shot’s The Anchor to draw double teams throughout the day. Andrew Bournes had a heck of a game for Pro Shot West, scoring 8 straight in the second to give his team a 25-23 lead at the half.

Los Fearless got even more formidable in the second half, as last week’s leading scorer Grimes showed up to play during halftime. Furthermore, their massive interior presence forced Pro Shot West into foul trouble, eventually sending both #14 Block Party and The Anchor to the bench early.

Playing against a squad with no subs, Los Fearless continued to pound the offensive glass, often times getting three or four shots per possession by scrambling for offensive boards. Pro Shot West, on the other hand, was often one-and-done on the offensive end and couldn’t get any sort of offense going on the interior.

“We box out hard and we attack the glass,” said 6’8” beast Hugo Boss after the game. I guess it’s really as simple as that. Pro Shot West limped through the fourth quarter, never able to find a rhythm on offense. They put up only 4 points in the final period, sealing their fate against the VBL’s second Cinderella story of the playoffs.

That means in two weeks, a pair of teams that combined for a 5-7 regular season record will compete for the VBL Championship after going a combined 5-0 in the playoffs. A new king will be crowned after 3 years of Novastars domination – who ya got, Sunblock or Los Fearless?

Don’t miss our legendary Ron Beals Day, going down in two weeks Sunday, August 13th. The day will include a litany of celebrity and all-star appearances, with the VBL CHAMPIONSHIP starting at 6 PM. We’ll see you there!

By the time the afternoon rolled around, it was time for some good old fashioned playoff action!

Sunblock Takes Down VBL Juggernaut Novastars

In life and in VBL, sometimes the unthinkable occurs. The day’s first match-up pitted 1-seed and clear favorite to win it all, the Novastars, against the upstart Sunblock squad, fresh off their 21-point upset of Hub Select in last week’s quarterfinals. It was clear from the tip that both teams came prepared for a dogfight.

“After our big win last week, we were in a group message all week talking about coming out and playing physical,” Sunblock’s star center, Pop Champagne, told me.

That physicality in combination with playoff nerves made for an ugly first quarter, full of turnovers, balls chucked out of bounds, missed layups, and blocked shots. Things seemed to turn in the second as the Novastars, lead by VBL vet No Fear, built an 18-4 lead midway through the quarter. Sunblock responded by putting together a 19-10 run to head into the half, sparked by two threes from last week’s and this week’s player of the game, The Mute.

 

Quarter three brought a thunderstorm of jabber between the teams, but Sunblock backed up the talk with unstoppable hustle, particularly from inside bangers The Kake Show and Pop Champagne. They seemed to have the advantage in winning 50-50 balls and offensive rebounds, an area that the Novastars typically dominate. But today just wasn’t their day.  

“[The Novastars] are a physical team, but if you give it back to them they’re not going to like it,” said The Mute, who led Sunblock in scoring for the second straight week. “So I told my team, ‘Keep doing it, keep doing it.’”

The game was tied going into the fourth and was close until the final minute. Sunblock built a 7-point lead while the Novastars’ team leader King Hustle sat the first part of the quarter. He returned with 4:30 left in the game to lead a comeback charge, but Sunblock held firm, continuing to snatch extra possessions and limiting the Novastars to just one shot per trip down the court. A wave of shock ran through the crowd as the final horn sounded – the undefeated VBL behemoth was out, bringing Sunblock to the finals for the first time since 2010

 

– Warren “Wojissimo” Szewczyk

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