2005 Summer Vegas Basketball Tournament
South Bay Shootout, Delano Renegades, and Las Vegas Aces Prevail
August 21, 2005
Open Division champions: South Bay Shootout.
LAS VEGAS, NV -- Sponsored by AsianWeek and AZN TV, the 9th Annual Asian American National Championship presented by the NCBL (Northern California Basketball League) and Dream League ended today at Doolittle Community Center with South Bay Shootout edging the California Shockwaves, 56-54, in the Open division. The Delano Renegades and Las Vegas Aces won convincingly in their 6-Foot and Masters divisions, respectively, with the Delano Renegades beating PAA of Los Angeles 64-50 and the Las Vegas Aces winning 64-51 against Manila BBQ of Hayward.
Stats are currently being compiled by the hard-working Dream League statcrew and should be up in the next couple of weeks. There's still a lot of work to be done: the 47 teams in the tournament played a grand total of 87 games in a span of 40 hours. Stories on each of the championship runs in the three divisions are forthcoming. We offer the Open Championship nailbiter first...
Trailing by two points with just 0.8 seconds to go in the game, Ripp Singh of the California Shockwaves took the inbounds pass from under their own basket, but the 8-foot shotput-like attempt hit the backboard and rim too hard and South Bay Shootout escaped with a 56-54 Open division championship.
Led by the backcourt trio of Ryan Mateo, Jojo Pierce, and Bobby Hernandez, South Bay Shootout jumped out to a 17-10 first quarter lead with the help of TJ Hawkins, who grabbed 6 of his 9 boards in that first period. The Shocks came out cold, shooting just 5-for-21.
In the second quarter Shocks' captain Himanshu "Hanes" Singh (no relation to Ripp), a wiry 6'4" point guard who had led his team to Dream League's Elite Asian National Invitational championship in Vegas back in April, got hot by hitting 4-of-5 on jumpers for 10 of his team-high 16 points, closing the gap to 33-31 at halftime.
From that point on, the game was a virtual stalemate. Both at 6'5", Vivek Vinjamur of the Shocks and Hawkins of Shootout neutralized each other, although Vinjamur, who prefers to spot up and face the basket from outside, went just 2-for-11 but still led his team with 5 assists. Hawkins was the post man in the middle for Shootout and finished with 10 points.
The fourth quarter was a defensive struggle with each team holding the other under double-digits. Shootout shot blanks for the first 3:40 but the Shocks didn't fare much better, going just 3-for-13 from the field in the final 9 minutes. With the high levels of intensity on defense, the pro-style 24-second shotclock wound down below 10 seconds remaining on nearly every possession. It was clear to any observer that both teams belonged in the championship final.
6-foot-and-under champions: the Delano Renegades.
But along with the great team defense were very methodical offensive sets. An attestment to championship- caliber basketball, in the halfcourt offense nearly everyone on the team with possession touched the ball and despite the nearly impenetrable defenses, there weren't many bad passes or silly turnovers. Shootout turned the ball over just 7 times, while the Shocks committed only 9 turnovers for the entire game, but 5 of them came in the 4th quarter.
Surprisingly, Hanes Singh missed a couple of critical free throws down the stretch, but after a clutch three by Pierce, Hernandez -- who led all scorers with 17 points -- also uncharacteristically missed one of two from the charity stripe and the Shocks had one last opportunity to tie or win. After the advancement of the ball to halfcourt on the ensuing pro-style timeout by the Shocks, Hanes couldn't connect from the baseline from 15 feet out, but the rebound was deflected and went out of bounds with the Shocks recovering possession with 0.8 remaining.
The scoreboard didn't have tenths-of-a-second and showed "0:00", but Shootout's captain Chris Vallejo was called to the scorer's table to verify that the scoreboard console did indeed show 0.8 seconds still on the clock and that the Shocks had one last breath of life, again thanks to the pro-style format with stopped clock. Veterans of Dream League's game format, the Shocks had done well in preserving their three precious timeouts and called their last one, designing the play for Ripp Singh, but unfortunately the play didn't turn out in their favor. As the buzzer sounded, Shootout's players rejoiced, but there was certainly a hint of relief in their faces.
With the nailbiter championship victory, Shootout avenged an earlier pool-play 60-54 loss to the Shockwaves. Ripp Singh led the Shocks with 15 points while Hawkins led Shootout with 14 to go along with 3 blocked shots in that game on Day One of the tournament.
Pierce was named Open division tournament MVP, but the honor could have gone to either of the three dynamic Shootout guards, all of whom can handle the rock and shoot the three with a hand in the face. It was a windy road to the championship for Shootout, which survived a myriad of single-digit victories, including a buzzer-beater three-pointer by Mateo against #10 Vegas ABL Select in the opening round of the playoff bracket on Day Two. With a loss to the Shockwaves in the same pool, Shootout was a relatively low #7 seed, while the Shockwaves were at #5 going into the final single-elimination 15-team bracket.
The Las Vegas Aces won the Masters championship.
The #1 through #4 seeds were as follows: Dream League NYC Select, the Las Vegas Aces, the Bay Area HEADS, and Arizona Desert Jade. Arizona and the select team from Dream League's New York affiliate fell victim to the Shockwaves.
Meanwhile the host team Bay Area HEADS, whose player-coach is tournament co-director Rafael Consing, ironically failed to get to the right gym at the right place and played 4-on-5 for the first quarter en route to a big loss against #14 Island Heat from Las Vegas.
Island Heat then lost to the #6 San Jose Ballers, comprised of many of Bay Area Dream League's top division's players. The Ballers were subsequently routed by Shootout in one of the semifinals with Mateo, Pierce, and Hernandez combining for 10 treys.
The Shockwaves are comprised of Indian/Pakistani players from the Los Angeles area, but they added some Northern California talent for Vegas. With Bay Area Dream Leaguer Manish Nandani injured and at the coach's helm, the team also had all-star Dream Leaguer Rob Dhat as the sixth man added for this tournament. Dhat contributed a valuable 8 points and 9 rebounds in the championship loss.
The starting five for South Bay Shootout is comprised of Hernandez, Pierce, and Hawkins from the Stockton Ballers and Mateo and Dennis Jimenez from San Jose Shootout, both veteran teams of various Filipino tournaments. Player-coach Vallejo took over in the absence of team sponsor Aldin Francisco.
As Dream League's Executive Director Rich Twu pointed out in an interview with NBA TV, "Our top four seeds and semifinal games were proof that Asian Americans have talented ballplayers all across the country looking to play in ultra-competitive, high-quality, high-caliber tournaments and leagues, represented by all segments of Asian ethnicities. This was one significant step in a continuing direction. If we are able to work through various scheduling difficulties, we're looking forward to including more of the Japanese and Chinese championship- caliber teams from coast to coast, and demonstrating the Asian Pacific American community's ongoing dedication to the game of basketball to our entire nation."
The next national tournament brought to you by Dream League is expected to be held in San Francisco in early December. Purposedly scheduled to include championship teams from the 65-year-old California Japanese leagues, the tournament will be headlined by an invite-only Elite/All-Star division restricted to championship teams from respective Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, Indian/Pakistani, and other Asian Pacific American community segments.
UPPER DIVISION (OPEN): 15 teams. 5 pools of 3 teams each for 2 games on Sat. Then on Sun, all teams are seeded in a 15-team single-elimination bracket (#1 gets a first-round bye). Players playing in other divisions are subject to schedule conflicts once the brackets start; such players will need to choose which team to play on.
UNDER 6-FOOT DIVISION: 24 teams. 6 pools of 4 teams each for 2 games on Sat and 1 game on Sun morning. Then on Sun midday to evening, the top 8 teams are seeded by (1) W-L record, (2) biggest point differential, (3) biggest point differential of teams beaten, (4) lowest point differential of teams lost to, (5) coin flip. Single-elimination for top 8 bracket. Players playing in other divisions are subject to schedule conflicts once the brackets start; such players will need to choose which team to play on.
MASTERS OVER-35 DIVISION: 8 teams. 2 pools of 4 teams each for 2 games on Sat, 1 game on Sun morning. Then on Sun midday to evening, the top 4 teams are seeded by (1) W-L record, (2) biggest point differential, (3) biggest point differential of teams beaten, (4) lowest point differential of teams lost to, (5) coin flip. Single-elimination for Final Four bracket. Players playing in other divisions are subject to schedule conflicts once the brackets start; such players will need to choose which team to play on.