2019 WINTER  |  SEASON 43

By: League Analyst
Contributing Writer


Relentless vs. Fire Squad
10 a.m.


Relentless is holding on to the #8 spot with a 1-2 record and they take on the defending Champions, Fire Squad, a team that is 2-2 and winners of 2 straight.


Player to Watch:  Fire Squad's biggest concern in the off-season was their lack of size. Losing Garrison Deshay and Nephi Fotiga had the Champions starting the season with a 0-2 record. The Champs have since adjusted but the fundamentals and size of Relentless Center, Tony Gonzalaez could end Fire Squad's 2 game winning streak. Gonzalez is averaging 11.3 ppg, 11.0 rpg and should have another double-double if Relentless feeds him in the paint. Joel Contreras (12.0 ppg) and Chris Plantillas (17.3 ppg, 1.3 apg) are Relentless' top 3 scorers.

Prediction:  Relentless GM Ruben Ramirez needs to find a way to stop All Star GM, Otto Guillermo. Otto has been on fire from the field and nearly had another triple double on Week 4. Otto is averaging 16.3 ppg, 10.3 rpg, 5.3 apg. Brandon Ortiz, Finals MVP is averaging 26.0 ppg, 6.8 rpg while Eric Orache is scoring 11.0 ppg, 8.0 rpg. Fire Squad has a lot of fire power on offense and it is Relentless' best interest to slow the game down and control the tempo. Fire Squad is on fire of late so don't be surprise to see Fire Squad improve their record to 3-2.


Relentless vs. Bullets
10:50 a.m.


Is Relentless a Playoff Bronze Division team? The Top 8 in Bronze make the Playoffs and if Relentless makes the post-season, this should be a preview on what it feels like to be in the postseason. Will the rookie team sweep their back-to-back double-header? GM Ruben Ramirez requested for the back-to-back and you know what they say, be careful what you wish for.


Player to Watch:  Relentless will have a tough first game as they take on Fire Squad, a team that shoots a lot of 3-pointers and Brandon Ortiz is virtually unstoppable. Bullets feature 2 players who play like Brandon Ortiz as Marcus Eggum (22.0 ppg, 2.0 apg) and Rick Gutierrez (18.7 ppg, 9.7 rpg) feature Bullets high octane offense. Eggum has been a walking highlight reel so look for him to feature a Relentless rookie on his poster on Week 5.

Prediction:  Bullets have too many weapons - they have point guard Wilson Parrales (8.3 ppg, 1.7 spg) controlling the tempo and they have Angel Romero (12.7 ppg, 7.0 rpg) that can shoot the lights out. Bullets GM Daniel Donato is out for a couple of weeks so he should be on the sidelines giving Bullets instructions. Relentless should still make the Playoffs but against 2 of the top teams in Bronze Division in a back-to-back scenario, Relentless will be 0-2 on Week 5.


Foundation vs. McDaddy's
11:40 a.m.


Both teams have struggled with (2-2) Foundation losing 2 straight. The Free Agent team, McDaddy's, have lost 3 straight and on the bright side, one of these teams will enter the League-wide bye with a win.


Player to Watch:  McDaddy's have players who can put up numbers in last season's All Star, Adrian Lecesne (14.7 ppg, 3.7 rpg) and Arvin Delapaz (13.0 ppg, 4.0 spg). What McDaddy's is lacking is a true point guard who can involve everyone on offense and so far, Christian Carrillo has been that dude. Carrillo not only makes the extra pass but has had several chase down blocks this season and he has been impressive on the defensive end.

Prediction:  It wouldn't be a surprise if McDaddy's shock Foundation but experience and team chemistry are leaning towards the former Champions. Foundation needs to crowd the paint and have McDaddy's participate in a 3-point shooting contest, an area where they were atrocious on Week 4. Foundation has four players scoring in double figures as Uzoma Kalu (13.7 ppg) and Kris Dick (15.7 ppg, 12.7 rpg) lead the way. If Foundation loses against the rookie team, it will be because McDaddy's fast break opportunities, an area where Foundation has been slow to get back this season. GM Jonathan Wynn needs to emphasize defense especially against the younger teams in Bronze Division.


Bullets vs. Stay Up
12:30 p.m.



Is (2-1) Stay Up a Playoff team? The team suffered their first L of the season against Below The Rim and the team will be put to the test after losing to Below The Rim last weekend. A tough double-header against Bullets and Tune Squad could see Stay Up fall to 2-3, barely hanging on to a Playoff spot.


Player to Watch:  Bullets, along with Chicle and Fire Squad, have been the best Bronze Division teams these past 2 seasons. Put them in Gold and they won't win more than 2 games. Stay Up have 3 players who do play in Gold Division with players Andy Macias, Playoff P (7.7 ppg) and Kevin Price (18.7 ppg) all playing for Prodigy Plug. While the trio could be a factor in this match-up, they have a Gold Division match-up with the Relics, a team they would rather focus on.

Prediction:  Bullets is playing the second set of a double-header while Stay Up is playing their first game of a back-to-back. Both benches are deep and despite Stay Up listed as a rookie team, their team chemistry is visible on the court. Bullets are older and recovering from injuries and last we checked, they didn't fare well in a double-header, especially with double-headers where they have to sit out for 1 hour *cough, Fire Squad, cough*. Marcus Eggum (22.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg) and Rick Gutierrez (18.7 ppg) should have big games but the aging Bullets roster makes the Boyle Heights team vulnerable to losing their first game of the season.


Tune Squad vs. Stay Up
1:20 p.m.



A Triple-Header Tune Squad Weekend headlines Week 3 as Tune Squad takes on Stay Up, Below The Rim and Chicle. Their match-ups feature 3 different styles of play and Tune Squad's game management will be put to the test.


Player to Watch:  Tune Squad is the youngest team in Bronze Division and the Bishop Amat alumni should get through this triple-header with no problems. GM Vincent Rodriguez III is averaging 16.7 ppg, 4.3 apg while Arellano is averaging a team-high, 21.0 ppg, 1.3 apg. Remy Barrancos is averaging 8.0 ppg while Daniel Perez is averaging 6.0 ppg.

Prediction:  After sitting out 2 weeks in a row, Tune Squad is unleashing the beast in this triple header. They debut their team jerseys and will play with extra motivation. Expect the team to show up early to scout Stay Up and Tune Squad should finish the weekend with a 2-1 record.


Below The Rim vs. Tune Squad
2:10 p.m.


(2-2) Below The Rim is looking for their first winning streak as they take on Bishop HS alumni team, Tune Squad. After opening the season with a loss against Chicle, Tune Squad has now won 2 straight.


Player to Watch:  Caleb Oviedo suffered a leg injury on Week 4 and could be out on Week 5 against Tune Squad. Caleb is averaging a team-high, 15.8 ppg, 7.3 rpg.  If Caleb is unavailable, look for Julius Patin (9.5 ppg, 4.3 rpg) and Tray McNutt (6.0 ppg) to carry the scoring load. GM Darryl Alexander leads the team with 2.5 apg while Lupe Pena is averaging 6.0 ppg.

Prediction:  Tune Squad is young and playing a triple-header will be a huge test to the division's fastest team. History suggests that a team playing a double-header usually starts off fast in their second game. Fatigue usually affects the team in the second half so look for Below The Rim to rally in the 2nd half. Tune Squad is faster and more efficient from the field, so look for Tune Squad to go 2-0 in their first 2 games on Week 5.


Chicle vs. Tune Squad
3:00 p.m.



Tune Squad's Triple Header on Week 5 ends against Chicle, a team the lost to in their season opener. Will Tune Squad beat the Final Boss? Chicle, looking to make it 20-1, should run the floor against one of the division's fastest teams in Tune Squad.


Player to Watch:  Chicle defeated Tune Squad, 48-47, in their first meeting as Vincent Rodriguez and Arellano led Tune Squad with 18 and 19 points, respectively.  Since then, Tune Squad had had players contribute in the scoring column and if Tune Squad can find a balanced scoring attack, they could sweep this weekend with 3 straight wins.

Prediction:  Chicle is averaging 74 ppg as Jay Tapang (15.5 ppg) and Danny Villalobos (16.3 ppg) lead the team in scoring. CJ "Nitro" Pang is focused on getting his teammates involved and he is averaging a team-high, 4.3 apg. GM Chris Duran's emphasis on team play should give the former Champions their 5th win of the season.


LA Riots vs. The Rock
4:00 p.m.



Can LA Riots climb out of the cellar? The 1-3 team from LA take on The Rock, a team that had their biggest W of the season against Monstars on Week 4.


Player to Watch:  Wesley Harris has been on fire for LA Riots and the rookie scorer is averaging 31.7 ppg, 6.3 rpg. Wesley leads the team with 19 three-pointers and LA Riots is averaging 37.4% from 3-point range. Chris Sav is averaging 6.8 ppg while GM Jackson Ruiz is averaging 6.3 ppg. Wesley leads the league in style points so look for his acrobatic fadeaways to out-shine The Rock's new uniforms.

Prediction:  Both teams are as unpredictable as they get. LA Riots have the talent to compete but their lack of team chemistry and experience playing together has them at the #11 spot. Meanwhile, The Rock loses to teams they should beat but beats team when they only have 6 players suited up. Chris Ashanti has been the team's best scorer but guys like Ed Principe and Terrell have stepped up for The Rock when they were short-handed.

Prediction...The Rock will win, based on the fact that their new jerseys are fire and they're going to play with a lot of emotion.


Relics vs. Prodigy Plug
5:00 p.m.


The Reigning 20x Champions are on fire despite re-tooling their roster and adding new players. The 3-0 team takes on Prodigy Plug (2-1), a team that has won their last 2.


Player to Watch:  Relics have a wide array of players who can score (Cisco Acevedo, 9.8 ppg and Roderick Evans Taylor, 26 ppg) and play defense (Yayo Yaisreal, 8.5 ppg, 13.5 ppg and DJ McGee, 5.5 rpg, 1.0 bpg) but the key to making it all work is management. So far, GM James Acevedo and Bobby Kovach have been on the sidelines and the players are happy as long as the team is winning. If and when the team suffers their first loss... well....

Prediction:  Relics have too much fire power and Prodigy Plug players will be fatigued. Prodigy seems to play their best in the early games but with weary legs come shaky performances. The team must rely on Marcus Carter (20.0 ppg, 10 rpg) and Nephi Tofiga (13.5 ppg) with Isaiah Watson (27 ppg) expected to sit this one out. Playoff P (12 ppg) has had his best games against Relics in the Playoffs but in this Week 5 Regular Season match-up, expect Paul to give his guys the majority of the minutes.


Team Challenge ALS vs. Try Hards
6:00 p.m.



It's the league's best team facing on the league's best player as #1 team, Team Challenge ALS take on Try Hards. Both teams are undefeated with a 4-0 record as Team Challenge ALS and Try Hards sit at the #1 and #2 spot.



Player to Watch:  League analysts have said this before and they will say it again - Ryan Carter isn't the only player playing for Try Hards. Despite averaging a league-best, 48.8 ppg, Ryan is surrounded by players who compliment his playing style. The Reigning MVP has had players like Fernando "Brodie" Ramos (11.5 ppg), Juan Banda (7.7 ppg) and Manny Morales (4.8 ppg, 8.5 rpg) step up in the team's 4 game winning streak. Last week, the team's smallest player, Raul Rodriguez (3.7 ppg) made the game's biggest shots. Who will step up on Week 5? 

Prediction:  Team Challenge ALS has been winning games on an average of 20 plus points. GM Sean Marshall is averaging a team-high, 29 ppg, 2.5 apg while Donovan Morris is averaging 13.5 ppg, 8.3 rpg. Center Johnny Dukes, likely to be out, is scoring 10.7 ppg, 6.3 rpg.


Beast Tribe vs. Baseline All Stars
7:00 p.m.


Both Beast Tribe and Baseline All Stars were late to start Season 43. Can Beast Tribe, winners of 2 straight, sweep their double-header? They take on Baseline All Stars, a team that started their season on Week 4 with a loss against Team Challenge ALS.


Player to Watch:  Jules Barron had an impressive debut with Baseline All Stars on Week 4 scoring 24 points on 55% shooting. Jules will more than likely match-up with Beast Tribe's best post defender, Jason Harris. GM Calvin Mitchell and Julian McDonald both scored 15 and 7 points respectively and both played freely in comparison to their tenure with Death Row.

Prediction:  Beast Tribe won't go 0-2 and in a worst case scenario, they'll drop one of their double-header games. Killmonger is a likely win considering Killmonger does not have the personnel to stop Beast Tribe. League analysts predict Beast Tribe won't be losing until they face Relics or Team Challenge ALS.


Beast Tribe vs. Killmonger
8:00 p.m.


Killmonger has lost 2 straight after starting the season out with a win. The 1-2 team from Chino take on Beast Tribe, winners of 2 straight.


Player to Watch:  The two guys with the most impressive physique face off as Killmonger's Sean Harris (14.5 ppg, 5.0 rpg) take on Beast Tribe's CJ Johnson (13.5 ppg, 5.5 rpg). Both guys are playing in their late 30's and are in better shape than most of the players in the league.

Prediction:  Killmonger is supposed to be re-tooling their roster and the reinforcements should be playing for the Chino based team. Unfortunately, the same was said last week and the result was a 1-sided affair in favor of Try Hards. Johnny Blaze (27.5 ppg) and Shad Earby (23.0 ppg) will have a lot of pressure as Beast Tribe's offense relies heavily on their ability to play defense.


Empire Elite vs. East LA Dream Team
9:00 p.m.


East LA Dream Team is 2-2 and sits #8 in the rankings. They take on Empire Elite, a team that is 1-3 and ranks #10 in the standings.


Player to Watch:  Empire Elite could easily be 3-1 with their 1-sided loss coming from Beast Tribe, a team that pressed them on Week 4. Empire Elite is gelling as James Chicago (17.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg) and Kevin Swink (12.5 ppg) have contributed to the rookie team in recent weeks. GM AJ Thomas is at his best as a scoring guard but he's been setting the table for his teammates as he averages a team-high, 3.8 apg. Rob Walker needs to shoot more and he is averaging 9.0 ppg while shooting 36% from 3-point range.

Prediction:  East LA Dream Team scores on plenty of fast break opportunities and Empire Elite needs to be aware of their transition offense. Last season's All Star, Derrick Tamanaha, is averaging 15.5 ppg while Ever Garcia leads the former Champions with 5.0 apg, 15.5 ppg. Matt Austin has been tearing up the stats sheet and he is scoring 23.5 ppg in 2 games upon his return.