|August 25, 2006|
By Rich Twu
The Proof is in the Pudding: Shootout Wins Two Championships, SJ Kidz Stealthily Wins Another
WALNUT CREEK, CALIFORNIA -- When we rank about 40 Asian teams that we either directly know of or have heard of, we aren't making it up. Last weekend at Raffy Consing's NCBL 10th Annual Tournament of Champions and the weekend before that at DrinkClub in Alameda was proof in the pudding. Consing's been doing this for the past 10 years, primarily for Filipinos on the West Coast, so if a test bed of one decade is not enough evidence, including last year's 9th Annual in Las Vegas combined with some of Dream League community's best (e.g., the California Shockwaves and Dream League NYC Select), please tell us what is.
Semi-retired Guy Kitigawa and Josh Tsutsui, members of the elite squad San Jose Kidz under the guise of the Clippers, took it to the unsuspecting Las Vegas Aces.
Five of our currently 37 ranked teams made the trip to Walnut Creek last weekend Aug. 19-20 to attend's Raffy's schindig. Actually, there will be a 6th out of 38. 3GS made a good enough of an appearance to warrant a Top 40 bid as an Elite team, although they eventually lost in the playoffs to the Wizards (#27), which lost in the semifinals to champion Shootout.
And actually, there were 7 out of 38 if you include the rare sighting of previously retired gunner Guy Kitigawa playing with his fellow San Jose Kidz/Hoopwear (ranked around #36 by Dream League) cronies Josh Tsutsui and Stevie Hom on a team dubbed the San Jose Clippers in the 6-Foot-And-Under division, marking the first time since the Danny Manning / Ron Harper era that an Asian team named the Clippers was in serious competition, let alone winning a championship.
Oh yeah, the Clippers also picked up fellow three-point gunner Keith Wang, formerly of Washington CYC (ranked around #28 or #21, depending on whether or not you want to count their affiliation with Arizona Desert Jade). As of this writing, Wang is currently averaging 22 points per game at a sickening 12-for-17 clip from three-point land in Bay Area Dream League's top NL division, in just 2 games played thus far as our statcrew catches up; the statcrew is probably about 2 weeks behind in the stats.
Kitigawa, Tsutsui, and Hom Give the 6-Foot Clippers a Kidz Boost
In the 6-Foot championship, Kitigawa and company pulled out a 1-point triumph over house-team (i.e., assembled by Consing) Manila BBQ, which featured Driven point guard Sean Caiola, former Dream League MVP (see 2005 Summer/Fall) and former Bay Area HEADS teammate Julian Ramos, who won Dream League's Top Defensive Player award back in Summer/Fall 2005.
I had warned Bay Area Dream Leaguer Jerico Camasura, who was playing for the Las Vegas Aces, that the Clippers could shoot. "Beware of the pudgy guy who looks hella innocent standing around outside the line," I said, describing Kitigawa's sniperism. I got a call from Camasura later that night after all was said and done and while we were talking about the upcoming Vegas tourney. "You were right," he stated bluntly. 'Nuff said.
In another tidbit, it occurred to me while shooting the breeze with Stevie Hom of the Clippers that I have known the "kid" (I think he said he's about 30 years old now) for over twenty-five years! This is because I was good friends with his older brother in grammar school. I remember Hom as a scrawny little kid and now he's a well-toned bordering-on-bulky "strong" point guard. He said he didn't want to be pushed around like he was as a little kid. Oh yeah, I was one of those guys along with his bro who pushed him around!
Pre-Vegas Elite Rumblings
Not only are Filipino teams like Tagumpay shown here (Mike Chang #4 plays for AL-Premier Sugar Beats) feeling helpless with Shootout's Ryan Mateo gunning from one side of the court with the score already 65-40...
Anyways, let's get back to the real topic at hand, which is that Shootout won two championships in a row the past two weekends. Even though the Shockwaves won an IndoPak tourney the same weekend in Fresno, two is still more than one. We'll wait until the IndoPak Toronto Nationals (as well as first-round Bay Area NL playoffs) this upcoming weekend to do a bulk update of the rankings, but there is little doubt that Shootout deserves to move up (again).
Also, I had a talk with the LA Tigers' (#2) Coach Chester Tadakawa and they are going to have weak representation at the Japanese LVI in three weeks. They are missing at least three starters, but per LVI rules, if you don't bring a team, you lose your bid for next year, so Tadakawa is still bringing his depleted team. As such, the Tigers will be skipping the Dream League Elite National Championship. Maybe they drop below Shootout (#4) in the pre-tourney rankings just based on facts and speculation?
Depleted would be the word for Setai Cossa (#11) as well, whose situation got so bad, it actually forfeited its LVI bid. They'll probably have to re-enter in the 2nd-to-highest division next year, if LVI history is a barometer.
Meanwhile, in other LVI news, Arizona (#21) and the Dream League All-Stars (#6) face each other in the first round, so they will not be facing each other in our Elite National on Sunday, of course, unless it's the championship of that. With either Arizona or the Dream League All-Stars to be eliminated from LVI championship contention after the first round, the LA Tigers depleted, and Setai Cossa absent, this leaves the door wide open for the Pac Coast Barons (#10) to make some waves at LVI.
Unfortunately, after repeated attempts, we never heard back from the Pac Coast Barons. We get the sense that their is indifference on their part. That's too bad, because they might be underestimating the caliber of the participants in the Elite AANC, headlined by none other than 2005 Vegas champions Shootout and some of the rest of the field as demonstrated in Raffy's 10th Annual.
Shootout Shoots Out Setai Cossa's Four ex-MVPs, 117-110
So guess who met at the DrinkClub finals? I was a little surprised because DrinkClub usually consists of teams bred out of the Japanese Leagues (as was Dream League originally, until I met Consing from the Filipino community and Hanes Singh and Irfan Jamil from the IndoPak community) and, quite simply, aside from the Vegas Nationals we are trying to promote, you just don't see a perennial Filipino champion go up against a perennial Japanese/Chinese champion in any given tournament out of the myriad of ones thrown in the summer.
It was a 117-110 tally with Shootout besting Setai Cossa -- in a 20-minute running time format, no less!
...but teams like the San Jose Ballers and even Japanese/Chinese perennials Setai Cossa are feeling the rain of Bobby Hernandez (and let's not forget Jojo Pierce, Dennis Jiminez, and Seve Nocon) from the other wing.
Setai Cossa actually picked up three-time Dream League MVP Hubert Liu, ex-MVP Mike Reding of the NL Wildcatz, and old 2nd-from-top-division Associates regulars Anthony Wang and Alvin Lin. Conant Chi was unavailable, but a starting five of ex-Dream League MVPs Jeremy Lee and Michi Langfeldt (who both currently lead the NL in scoring), Reding shooting the lights out from downtown, Liu shooting the lights out from midrange, and Lin filling in the details ain't bad at all -- that's four ex-MVPs of Dream League's highest division on one squad!
The Shootout lineup was the usual cast of characters, minus a couple regulars. Wearing their brethren Stockton Ballers' uniforms, Shootout was described by traditionally Japanese/Chinese-hoop-exposed onlookers as the "stocky half-black bald guy" and the similarly bald "twins", draining threes left and right, rendering DrinkClub's lack of a shotclock irrelevant. That would be 2005 Vegas MVP Jojo Pierce with twins Bobby and George Hernandez from Stockton, but more well known as integral parts of the perennial Filipino champion Shootout squad. Point guard Seve Nocon and center TJ Hawkins were probably not there, but Ryan Mateo and Dennis Jiminez probably were.
NCBL Open Division Results
In Raffy's tournament, Shootout knocked off the San Jose Ballers (unranked and not to be mistaken with the Ballers/Wizards aka Cawit Law Offices, or the Stockton Ballers aka Shootout) twice in the first three games, then eliminated the Wizards and beat PacRim Sports (#20) by 1 point to win the championship. Poor San Jose Ballers. There were four-team pools in which you played against two of the four teams, but due to the point differential, the Ballers had to play Shootout again in the first round of the playoffs. So they exited with an 0-3 record, with two of the losses to much dominant Shootout. The same quirk led to Vegas 6-Foot perennial contenders, former 2005 AL-Premier champions, and hometown boys the Prodigies, who did well in their pool, but then ran into problems because one win was a forfeit, then bowing out to Manila BBQ. Point differential sometimes does not work well.
The Wizards added former PBA pro Phil Newton to their roster and played at a caliber well above their current 1-7 record (under the guise of sponsor Cawit Law Offices) in bowing out against Shootout. Captain Jeremy DelaCruz says that Newton has been unavailable in the NL due to Sunday work issues, which hope to be ironed out in time for the Fall season.
Finally, PacRim Sports up-ended Driven in the first round of the playoffs. Despite not having the roster that PacRim commish Don Raymundo usually likes to put together (e.g., stacked with semi-pro Filipino players), this rag-tag team came up to Walnut Creek and showed that the PacRim name still rings true. I had a brief conversation with one of the players, but haven't heard back from them about Vegas. Maybe next year.
Moving Up and Down the Rankings
So anyways, the long and short of it is this: Shootout needs to move up the rankings, Setai Cossa stays put with yet another late-round heartbreaker albeit to Shootout, the Wizards did well enough to probably move up a little, and PacRim definitely moves up. And Kitigawa and Tsutsui's 6-Foot championship just goes to show you that it's all about the Elite players.