By: League Analyst
Contributing Writer


Reckless vs. We Tried
Bronze Division
2 p.m.


If We Tried wins their first game of the season this weekend, we are chanting, "U-S-A! U-S-A!" after the game.

Reckless’ Keys to Winning
- One team will head into 4th of July Break with their first win of the season. The other team will sulk in sorrow, drinking beer, getting drunk, and eating all the BBQs to make themselves feel better. Can we get an invite? Jokes aside, Reckless has the experience and the talent to win their first game but We Tried has the drive and they're hungry for their first win. You know what they say - "Hard work beats talent when talent isn't working."

- Steven Castanieto is averaging a team-high, 22.0 ppg, 2.0 spg, 2.5 apg while GM Noel Serpas is scoring 12.0 ppg, 2.7 apg. Luis Montes has been in and out of the line-up (work) and last season's Consolation Bracket MVP won't be available for all 8 games. Reckless needs a guy to step it up or must collectively work harder to make up for one of their best player's scoring.

- Despite the scratches in the loss column, GM Noel Serpas says he's having fun with the guys and they're doing what they're doing when they first come in, enjoying the brotherhood and the company of their bros. In Bronze Division, you can't be too critical of players because that's not what this is for. Every now and then, we're blessed with moments (Brian Serpas' Game Winner) and memories (Championships) that are unforgettable but on Week 5... we're all pretty much looking forward to the Holiday Weekend. Oh, there's a Reckless double-header by the way. LOL. Game Management will be key! lol

We Tried's Keys to Winning
- Reckless has 2 chances to win their first W of the season and they could be looking at the 3-point Contest against nWo. Despite the losses, GM Anthony Meltcher and Cody Rote is
n't a 2-man show and the rest of the team is contributing. Carlos Nava is averaging 10.7 ppg with 6 three's for the season while Than Ho is averaging 6.3 ppg. The team combines for 10.3 apg and is shooting 38.7% from the field.

- Reckless aren't getting back on defense and their biggest weakness is transition defense. Opponents are pushing the tempo and Reckless isn't stopping the fast breaks. If Reckless wants to play zone and gets their fastest players to stay up top, you cherry pick... (cough)

- Reckless is one of the bigger teams in the division and despite out-rebounding Reckless for the season (34.7 vs 32.3), expect Reckless to dominate the glass unless We Tried is out-hustling them for the rebounds. Rebounding is key especially if We Tried is trying to push the tempo against a much slower team (and probably tired from drinking the night before), Reckless.


nWo vs. Reckless
Bronze Division
3 p.m.


Sums up nWo's game plan.

nWo’s Keys to Winning
- They won a close game against We Tried but outside of their 3-point shooting, nWo has been 1-dimensional this season. The question is, do they do what they keep doing, or will they try and start to develop other aspects of their game, besides 3-point shooting. The team has shot 48 times from 3-point range while only attempting 37 field goal attempts inside the 3-point territory.

- Derrick Tamanaha is averaging a team-high, 32.5 ppg but is in and out of the line-up as he prepares for a bigger role w/ Gold Division team, Ball Broz. Beau Reyes is averaging 5.7 ppg while CJ Collins is scoring 4.0 ppg. Center Dion Cruz is averaging a double double with 12.0 ppg, 11.7 rpg.

- Reckless is playing their second game of a double-header. That means, run and push the tempo because Reckless fatigue will start affecting them in the 2nd half. We Tried's game plan is to push the tempo and that should help nWo considerably.

Reckless' Keys to Winning
- Their second match-up of a back-to-back double-header suits well for their team but the question is, will  they have enough in the tank? nWo is slower, older, and plays outside the lines, shooting 3-pointers at every opportunity.

- The North Hollywood team will get pleny of minutes in both games and its up to GM Noel Serpas to manage the team's minutes. Will he play big against We Tried and go small against nWo? Will he match-up with both teams? Youth is on We Tried's side and out of all the teams, We Tried hustles and is the hungriest team out of all 3 teams mentioned.

- This game will be won on the glass considering 3-point shooting will be a key factor in this contest. Brian Serpas is averaging 10 rpg while founder James Santillan is averaging 8.3 rpg. Noel Serpas leads the team with 10 three's while Steven Castanieto ranks 2nd with 7 per contest.



Foundation vs. IHOB
Bronze Division
4 p.m.


Foundation might be bigger but IHOB has youth, speed, and length on their side. Adrian Lecesne goes up for the block attempt against Reckless.

Foundation’s Keys to Winning
- The division's second best team will need to hold off the surge from upstart team, IHOB, a team with fresh legs, youth and speed. The rookies are just as fast as Chicle but less experience and less refined. The team from Victorville can make a huge statement against Foundation, a team with Championships and experience...and cobwebs because those creaky knees are starting to get old.

- They may be playing against Father Time but Mark Mercado is ahead at halftime. His bread and butter is baseline and the mid-range and so far, he is averaging 22.0 ppg on 53.6% shooting. Adrian Eddington is scoring 17.0 ppg, 12.0 rpg while Rommel Del Rosario is scoring 4.8 ppg, 6.5 rpg. Center Mike Arceo is averaging 7.5 ppg, 10.0 rpg and with new offensive schemes set to utilize the low post, expect GM Jonathan Wynn to utilize Arceo more.  Wynn is averaging 9.5 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 5.5 apg.

- Foundation plays with urgency because they know they have to play perfect in order to beat Chicle this season. After losing to Chicle on Week 3, they realized they need to play a different tempo and need to utilize their bigs more. Defensively, they cannot play man against IHOB, a team that will out-run them at every opportunity.

IHOB's Keys to Winning
- The rookies have a double-header against the top 2 teams in the division. Foundation is slower and older relatively older. IHOB needs to control the tempo and get out and utilize their running game.

- Everyone ate at IHOB last weekend and International House of Buckets' host, GM Arvin Delapaz, is making sure everyone eats. Delapaz is averaging a team-high, 12.0 apg, and he is averaging 13.0 ppg, 5.0 spg. Every player scored in double digits but against a refined Championship team like Foundation, those opportunities will be scarce considering Foundation is focusing more on D. Adrian Lecesne leads the team with 18 ppg while Jason Shorts and Zac Nece are averaging 16 per contest.

- While IHOB is faster and younger, Foundation is older and bigger. Nick Perez is averaging a team-high, 10 rpg while three players (Adrian Lecesne, Jason Shorts, and Zac Nece) are grabbing 8.0 rpg. The team must control the boards and get out on the open floor.



Ball Broz vs. Hoopers
Gold Division
5 p.m.


Ball Broz's new pick-up (#1) Yayer has been getting everyone involved on offense.

Ball Broz’s Keys to Winning
- Ranked #4 and with a busy Sunday afternoon, Ball Broz looks like they'll be weary against Hoopers, a team that won their first game last weekend. It happened to East LA Dream Team last week (tired from playing in Pac Rim), it might happen to Ball Broz.

- Steve Carpenter is averaging 28 ppg, 5.0 rpg while Derrick Tamanaha is averaging 21.5 ppg, 3.0 spg. The rest of the team's stats is inaccurate because their GM isn't logging them in properly. Please make sure you check with the stats table and you have matching jerseys and you're using the same number throughout the game. You can't get upset when 3 players on your team is wearing #3 jerseys, and expect us to take accurate stats when every player on the team is wearing #3 with red, blue, white jerseys on. LOL. Just in time for 4th of July, right?

- Jokes aside, Ball Broz have recovered nicely without MVP Mike Peters. Yader Combs, their new PG, is setting the pace and getting everyone involved while their 2 best players are putting up numbers this season. With a deeper bench compared to last season, Ball Broz was looking at a potential disaster but it looks like they've recovered from the loss of the Reigning MVP.

Hoopers' Keys to Winning
- Hoopers won their first game of the season last week and they did it because of 3 things.

 a.) they moved the ball around
 b.) they hit clutch free throws (former MVP Gary Beaird, 16.8 ppg)
 c.) Zach Nece. The rookie debuted with 26 points and 12 rebounds and for extra measure, had 3 blocks to prove he's the real deal.

- Spread the good vibes. They play better when they're not arguing with officials or each other. Uzoma Kalu had a moment when he got upset with Charley Yousef for committing a "JR play" but quickly got over it and said it's over and erased all bad mantra once the game re-started for overtime. You want a leader who makes everyone better and uplifts their players and Uzoma is starting to figure our his personnel on his new team.

- Wouldn't it be special if Mike Peters made his season debut this week? It was rumored he was playing for Hoopers this season and not playing for Ball Broz any longer. Hmm...(wishful thinking)... no one saw Austin Rivers getting traded this week, and we're sure lifelong Clipper fan Gary Beaird is ecstatic. Anything can happen, right?


Chicle vs. IHOB
Bronze Division
6 p.m.


If IHOB sweeps their double-header against the top 3 teams in Bronze, everyone will want to join their team, including Reckless player, Allan Abrillo.

Chicle’s Keys to Winning
- The division's best team have new jerseys to start the second half of the season and the undefeated Chicle is taking on rookie team, IHOB. They know that IHOB is young, fast, and pushes the tempo. Will GM Chris Duran (7.8 ppg, 4.3 rpg) have Chicle try to out-run IHOB or will they take a page from Foundation and slow it down?

- Four players are averaging double-digits in scoring. Two players have won Player of the Week season including Mike Trout (18.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg) and CJ Pang (14.0 ppg, 10 rpg). Both teams feature high octane offense so look for both teams to put up numbers. Their team should be able to pick IHOB apart on offense as they patiently look for wide open players by setting picks and running the offense.

- Defensively, they need to stop IHOB's GM, Arvin Delapaz (12 apg) from setting up his teammates. His 3rd game of the afternoon could make it tough for Arvin to play 100% so look for Chicle to tighten up defensively on Delapaz.

IHOB's Keys to Winning
- From 1 to 5, Chicle is deep. They run a 8-man roster and usually 6 to 7 are playing. Word on the street is IHOB is still adding players but how many will they add? Having too many players means more time on the bench and with a drive from Victorville, would you really want to sit on the bench? Hmm...

- Only 2 free throws attempted last weekend? That means the other team wasn't playing defense or they were just that fast. They combined for 13 steals and a whopping 25 assists in their debut. Is this on easy mode in 2k? After a double-header against the 2 top teams in Bronze, we'll soon find out if IHOB is a Gold caliber team.

-  Chicle is known to shoot a high percentage on the floor and last weekend, IHOB combined to shoot 50% from the field. Jason Shorts shot an efficient 70% (16 ppg) while Zac Nece (16 ppg) shot 63.6%. Their leading scorer, Adrian Lecesne, is shooting 53.8% averaging 18 ppg.


Renegades vs. Relics
Gold Division
7 p.m.


Cisco Acevedo was named Player of the Week after scoring 35 points on Monstars last weekend.

Renegades’ Keys to Winning
- Game of the Week. Former team-mates reunite as 18x Champions, Relics, take on MVP Front-runner, Kris Dick, and Renegades. Kris is averaging 26.3 ppg, 14.7 rpg in Renegades' 3-0 start. What was supposed to be a mediocre start has turned into a surprising undefeated march to the top of the Gold Division rankings.

- GM Aaron Mancell (5.0 ppg, 2.3 apg) knows his next big point guard, Asher Arvinger (13.0 ppg, 3.0 apg) is expected to take over but after Mighty Mike Ratliff's big season opener last weekend, he might have to play the 6th man role. Mike made his season debut with 25 points, 3 steals and was 63.2% from the field against the 2x defending Champions.

- The stars are going to get their but it's up to the supporting cast to contribute. Jason Fielder is quietly averaging 8.3 ppg, 6.7 rpg while Justian Hamilton is averaging 12.5 ppg, 5.0 rpg. We know Justian isn't no part of no supporting cast...but that's just how deep Renegades is this season. (Did you read that in Aaron Mancell's voice, cuz we sure did).

Relics' Keys to Winning
- Four players are averaging double-digits in scoring for 18x Champions, Relics. Cisco Acevedo leads the way with 24.3 ppg and he is averaging 2.7 apg, 1.3 spg. Acevedo leads the division with 22 three-pointers and is shooting 47.8% from 3-point range. Terrence Martin hasn't missed a field goal yet and he is averaging 17.5 ppg and is 7-for-7 from inside 3-point territory.

- Relics can't show up with just 5 players especially in a tough double-header against 2 teams that called them out. Lasalle Thomas (9 ppg) and Kenny Ali (2.7 ppg) have to put up numbers if Relics is going 5-0 to start their comeback season.

- Kris Dick is off to fast scoring starts and they need to limit his touches. Mike Ratliff dominates the ball and is difficult to stop once he gets in the offensive flow. Offensively, Relics will fill up the stats sheet but it's the defensive schemes that will prove critical when stopping Renegades' fast start.



Relics vs. The Rock
Gold Division
8 p.m.


The Rock won't have their best rebounder against 18x Champions, Relics on Week 5.

Relics’ Keys to Winning
- The 18x Champions, Relics, is answering 2 call-outs this week - The Rock and Renegades, two teams who are looking to give Relics their first L of the season.

- Terrence Martin (has yet to miss a field goal) was a no-show against Monstars and the poster boy is subtly saying that Week 4 match-up was too easy. Relics played 4 on 5 for 8 minutes and still came away with the win as Cisco Acevedo (24.3 ppg) and Bobby Kovach (13.7 ppg) held off a run from the Baldwin Park team. James Acevedo is averaging 7.3 apg and the team's savvy playmaker helped put the game away against Monstars with a lay-up that extended their 2 point lead to 8.

- Basketball IQ is huge and Relics know that The Rock tends to play with a lack of poise. Relics try to make the smart plays while The Rock has a tendency to argue with officials. Expect T-bone to egg The Rock on when calls aren't going their way. With this game being the second game of a double-header, game management will be crucial for Relics and look for them to play smarter against The Rock, a team that will shoot 1 vs 3 with 5 seconds left on the clock in OT...

The Rock's Keys to Winning
- Things are going to change this year, youngin" - D'Angelo McDaniel on Instagram.

"You know I play for the Relics, right?" - Terrence Martin.

D'Angelo M, the one who called the Relics out, is averaging 7.5 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 3.0 apg. Terrence Martin of the 18x Champions, Relics, is averaging 17.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg and has many accolades in the league starting with Most Improved Player of the Year (our favorite award of his by the way), MVP, Hall of Fame, All Star... pretty much the Magic Johnson of Superstar Basketball.

- Admittedly, the person who played 1 on 3 with 5 seconds left called that play a "JR play" and won't make that mistake again. The beauty of Livestream is the ability to go back and fix your mistakes and GM Ben Sin will figure it out. The 2x Champions are starting the second half of the season with new jerseys so look for them to play inspired ball. Unfortunately... (lol) the person that did play 1 on 3 also said that he wouldn't be surprised if someone calls a time-out when they don't have a time-out.

"Look, we're wearing Fab 5 jerseys, and I wouldn't be surprised if one of us calls a timeout and busts a Chris Webber..." - Instagram DM

- Jokes aside, the team is playing without their best rebounder in Kassah Kantiok (11.7 ppg, 11.7 rpg) and they're hoping to have Glenn Payne (15.5 ppg, 5.0 rpg) back in the line-up to make up for Kantiok's rebounding and scoring. Eric Rey is quietly averaging 2.5 apg, 7.5 ppg while Mike Ashanti is averaging 10.8 ppg.


Monstars vs. Prodigy Plug
Gold Division
9 p.m.


Garrison Shey is looking to add to his highlight reel this week so look for Garrison to finish at the rim against a familar foe, Monstars.

Monstars’ Keys to Winning
- Both team lost to Ball Broz on Week 4. League analysts had both Monstars and Prodigy Plug winning those match-ups but both teams lost to last season's Finalists. Ball Broz was setup for disaster this season considering they lost their MVP (Mike Peters) and were unsure who was coming back. After heavily recruiting and adding a deeper bench, Ball Broz is stronger than ever. Point is, Monstars haven't had a deep bench this season and Prodigy has players in and out of their line-up. If they want to compete with the talent in the upper echelon of the division, they need bodies on the bench.

- After winning their opener against Hoopers, Monstars have lost 3 straight. The team from Baldwin Park has 4 players averaging double digits in scoring with GM Jared Ojeda averaging 12.5 ppg, 2.5 rpg. Ralph Morelos is scoring 17.3 ppg while Xavier Morelos is averaging 14.5 ppg. Rookie wing player, Andrew Martinez, is scoring 14.5 ppg, 7.3 rpg.

- This is a re-match of Week 2, a match-up Monstars lost, 76-58. With Prodigy Plug reeling and Monstars getting their groove back, Monstars should go out and prove that Week 2 loss was a fluke.

"They're a good team, but to beat us by 20... we know we're better than that," said Monstars GM, Jared Ojeda.


Prodigy's Keys to Winning
- After suffering a 1-sided loss against Ball Broz, Prodigy has now lost 3 straight. The team once billed the team of the future is going back in time to Week 2, taking on Monstars, a team they defeated 76-58 in their first W of the season.

- Garrison Shey leads Prodigy with 22.7 ppg, 6.0 rpg while Steven is averaging 13.3 ppg, 7.0 rpg. Christian is scoring 14.7 ppg while Kevin Price is averaging 10.3 ppg. Poobey "Russell Eastbook" is averaging 12.0 ppg on 42.5% shooting.

- The team had a balanced scoring attack on Week 2 as Christian led the way with 17 points. Garrison Shey and Steven both scored 16 while the team combined to shoot 50.8% from the field. They defeated the Monstars by 20 by using their length and size while being active on defense.