By: League Analyst
Contributing Writer







(1) Relics vs. (8) The Rock

18x Champions, Relics, are in position to take the throne back. Word is circulating that The Rock may not have enough players for the 1st Round match-up and Relics may advance to the Semis without having to play against The Rock. With the possibility of playing just 2 games, will Relics earn Championship #19?

Cisco Acevedo, Gold Division MVP candidate, averaged 22.9 ppg, 2.4 apg while Bobby Kovach averaged 16.5 ppg, 8.1 rpg. Kovach, the top candidate for Defensive Player of the Season, contests every shot and is often seen guarding the opponent's best player. Andrew Knox has found his legs *cough* late in the season and he is averaging 13.4 ppg, 7.0 rpg. Drew has contributed to the highlight reels with several dunks late in the season and the Relics have been efficient despite losing a lot of flash due to Father Time. Terrence Martin is a proven Championship player and when the Relics struggled in games, Martin was sitting out. Expect Terrence to be in action as Relics go for Championship #19.

Several players from The Rock are out of town and Mike Ashanti (10.8 ppg, 3.0 rpg) should drive from his new residence (Las Vegas) in order to avoid The Rock forfeiting their Playoff game. D'Angelo McDaniel (12.8 ppg, 7.8 rpg) was on fire in their last game of the season while Kassah Kantiok has been a menace in the boards for The Rock. Kassah averaged 10.2 ppg, 12.0 rpg while Eric Rey averaged 6.1 ppg, 5.1 rpg.



(4) East LA Dream Team vs. (5) Prodigy Plug

The 2x Reigning Champions, East LA Dream Team, has a tough match-up in the 1st Round as they take on "The Team of the Future" Prodigy Plug. The team is 4-4 and has won 3 straight as GM Paul Magaway (11.5 ppg, 2.0 apg) features a team of young high flyers in Isaiah Watson (28 ppg, 3.3 apg) and Garrison Shey (16.7 ppg, 5.7 rpg). Prodigy also features a team of sharp shooters in Poobie "Russell Eastbrook" (10.7 ppg, team-high 17 three's) and Steven Goytia (13.1 ppg, 5.9 rpg). The team's toughness will be tested as they take on 2x Defending Champions, East LA Dream Team.

East LA Dream Team has lost 2 straight and coincidentally, those 2 games marked the return of Finals MVP, Ever Garcia (14.5 ppg, 5.2 rpg) to the line-up. Fingers cannot be pointed at Ever as East LA Dream Team has faced inconsistency all season with several players in and out of the line-up this season. A glance at the team stats will show that NO PLAYER from East LA Dream Team played all 8 games. Center Ant Lefeau averaged 17.0 ppg while Andrew Martinez scored 23 ppg, 7.0 rpg. At full throttle, East LA Dream Team is the team to beat but with a depleted line-up, East LA Dream Team is barely losing games against their opponents.



(2) Ball Broz vs. (7) Hoopers

After forfeiting their last game of the season, are the former Champions ready to turn on the light switch? Is there a light switch? Hoopers lost 3 straight games to end the season with a 2-6 record as Uzoma Kalu led the team with 19.7 ppg, 7.3 rpg. Rookie phenom, Ryan Cort, averaged a team-high, 26.7 ppg while shooting 50% from beyond the arch. GM Gary Beiard averaged 16.5 ppg, 1.3 spg while Larry Parker scored 11.7 ppg. The team had a slow start but showed signs of competitiveness when Zach Nece (18.7 ppg, 6.0 rpg) was playing for Hoopers. After blowing his knee out, both Hoopers and Bronze Division team, IHOB, struggled late in the season.

Ball Broz won 4 straight to finish the season with a 6-2 record. Last season's Finalists was led by Steve Carpenter who finished with 22.3 ppg, 6.8 rpg. Mike Peters, last season's MVP, averaged 17.4 ppg on 57.5% shooting while rookie phenom, Derrick Tamanaha, averaged 16 ppg, 2.6 apg. Kahlil Duke averaged 17.5 ppg in 2 games while Yader Combs controlled the tempo, averaging 5 apg in 5 games. The team is loaded with offense and their first match-up with Hoopers was the highest scoring game of the season.


(3) Renegades vs. (6) Monstars

Word on the street is, Monstars won't have a full roster as The Morelos Brothers (Ralph - 16.4 ppg, 9.0 rpg and Xavier - 14.0 ppg, team-high, 10.3 rpg) and Andrew Martinez are questionable in the 1st Round against Renegades. If 3 of their starters are missing for their 1st Round match-up, expect GM Jared Ojeda (12.9 ppg) and Johnny Cabrera (10.7 ppg) to shoot for the stars against a gritty Renegades roster.

If Monstars are short-handed against Renegades, expect GM Aaron Mancell to look at the bigger picture and sit his star players out. Kris Dick, MVP front-runner, led Gold in scoring with 29.3 ppg, 14.8 rpg while Mike Ratliff averaged 21.8 ppg, 2.8 apg. Jason Fielder (8.3 ppg) and James Griffin (3.7 ppg, 1.7apg) should get the majority of the minutes as Renegades look forward to the winner of the Ball Broz vs. Hoopers match-up.





(1) Chicle vs. Winner of (4) Reckless vs (5) We Tried

Word on the street is, Chicle may be fatigued for the Semis as the Nike 3 on 3 Tournament has Chicle playing double duty on Championship Sunday. Will Chicle overcome the heat and having to play 3 games to advance to the Semis? History isn't on their side as several teams from Superstar have completed a perfect record (8-0) only to lose in the Playoffs. Will Chicle be the next team to fall for the Undefeated Team Jinx?

Mike Trout (MVP front-runner) averaged 17.4 ppg, 5.3 rpg while Jay Tapang led the team with 17.6 ppg, 5.9 rpg. Damien Reyes averaged 9.3 ppg while CJ "Nitro" Pang scored 12.7 ppg, 2.0 spg, 5.6 apg. With the trio of Nitro, Mike, and Louis Venegas (6.0 ppg, 1.3 spg) participating at the Nike 3 on 3 Tournament, expect Chicle's late additions (Danny Villalobos - 14 ppg, Matt Gutierrez, 9.5 ppg) to come through for GM Chris Duran (6.3 ppg)


(4) Reckless vs (5) We Tried

Regular Season records don't matter for Reckless, winners of last season's Consolation Bracket. The former 2x Champions take on We Tried in the 1st Round and look for Reckless to show up with a full roster. The team from North Hollywood finished the season with a 2-6 record as Steven Castanieto led the team with 22.2 ppg, 4.0 rpg. GM Noel Serpas averaged 13.5 ppg, 1.1 spg while Luis Montes, last season's Finals MVP, averaged 17 ppg in 4 games. With a full roster, the team is capable of playing in the paint and dominating the glass for second chance opportunities. Without a full roster, Reckless has been a jump shooting team and this season, they averaged 32.4% from 3-point range, attempting 225 three-point attempts.

We Tried finished their rookie campaign with a 1-7 record and the late addition of Lance "The Claw" German gave We Tried a 1-1 record on the last weekend of the season. Lance averaged 33.5 ppg, 19 rpg in 2 games while GM Anthony Meltcher averaged 15.3 ppg, 11.0 rpg. Cody Rote was off to a fast start from 3-point range but has cooled off averaging 13.1 ppg, 2.9 apg. If We Tried is hoping to advance to a match-up with undefeated team, Chicle, The Nava Brothers (16.6 ppg, combined) or Johnny Truong must provide unforeseen scoring support.


(2) Foundation vs. (3) IHOB

Both teams are 5-3 as Championship laden Foundation takes on rookie team IHOB in the 1st Round.  Experience may be on Foundation's side but Father Time is undefeated and youth heavily favors their opponents, IHOB.

The rookies are best when they run the floor and it starts with Jason Shorts (11.1 ppg, 6.0 rpg),  the team's defensive anchor that gets the fast break started. Getting stops on defense is key for IHOB and when they're on the break, Adrian Lecesne (15.5 ppg, 3.5 apg) and Josh Booker (12.5 ppg, 2.7 apg) are either facilitating or driving the lane to score. With Zach Nece blowing out his knee late in the season, IHOB replaced Zach with newcomers, Myles Barnet (15.5 ppg, 6.3 rpg) and Bryan Hillcould (7.0 ppg, 11.5 rpg). Will that be enough to offset Foundation's bigs?

Mark Mercado (team-high, 20.4 ppg, 1.6 apg) has been Foundation's best player all season and his teammates have slowly worked on their conditioning as the season progressed. Center Mike Arceo grabbed 27 rebounds in his Player of the Week game and he averaged 9.8 ppg, 13.2 rpg this season. Adrian Eddington has been a "Regulator" in the post and he averaged 16.8 ppg, 11.4 rpg while GM Jonathan Wynn averaged 14.4 ppg, 4.6 apg. The team's basketball IQ and their success playing in other Championship teams should give them the edge over IHOB but they must control the tempo if they're looking to advance to the next round.