|So the Battle of the Bigs came and went, and the show was stolen by a small guy.|
It’s always the case, eh? Montross and Howard were set to do battle and Jimmy King steps it up. Ewing-Sampson? Sleepy Floyd comes out of nowhere.
Well, last night when Brandon Chock met Brian Liang for the first time, Dennis Yang didn’t exactly come out of nowhere – but he turned in the type of game that will make you never forget.
Yang’s been an All-Star Game MVP. He’s had games where he’s been on a different planet, shooting the ball so well. If he’s a surprise to teams who face him, then no one knows that Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes had a baby.
To leave him open and let him be is basically committing ball-game suicide.
Sparta! You would not think San Jose State basketball sucks from the way D-Yang plays.
Yang dropped 26 points on 11 of 19 shooting on the – once again – perplexed 101 perimeter defense and led Gen X past M&A 61-50 in an elimination playoff game to send 101 packing for the off-season.
Chock and Liang both had solid games – both had double doubles – BC with 20 and 12 and BL with 13 and 14 to live up to the hype – but as one should have guessed when the focus is heavily on one aspect of the game, another part made all the difference.
That part – aside from Yang’s overall brilliance (and the fact that Gen X never gets tired (listen to Chock and he’ll tell you “good thing we’re in shape!” all game long) – would be 3 three-pointers from Rob Schopen (he just continues to bang ‘em) and the overall outside shooting by Gen X.
They knew that 101 had problems defending the outside – and they went right to it. Yang, Schopen, and Sung-Mo Cho dropped jumpers on 101 like snow on Christmas morning. It was a site to behold.
Not a site to behold, however, was the aftermath of the ball game when Young Yu and Cho exchanged words and had to be separated when the two were leaving the arena for their cars (Yu for a cab and Cho for Jae Ha Hwang’s).
Yu, a chippy kind of guy, took offense to a verbal exchange that happened during the heat of the game – and Cho, never one to back down and always one to inflame the situation – started yappin’ away.
This, folks, is how rivalries are born.
Yu, who struggled again (2/11 for just 5 points) will have to live with the burn for now of knowing that Cho and Gen X got the last word in.
If D-Yang keeps playing like a man on a mission, that last word may go on for awhile yet.
(1) Homecrest Cruisers vs. (4) Da Bien: This is amazing. A real testament.
I had to do a double take when I saw this game scheduled for the second round.
Here we are, a long ways yet from the Finals, and we have a final-caliber game in Round 2.
How did this happen?
Well, for starters – the NL got a whole heckuva lot tougher this season and as a result, Da Bien fell to the 4th seed. Well – that plus their revamped line-up which is still sometimes having chemistry issues.
I had a science teacher in high school who broke it down for us this way: chem-is-try.
Works in Da Bien’s case cause to be honest, their chemistry issues aren’t so much being able to play well together on the court as it is just showing up.
Chem-is-try. They’d have a lot more chemistry if some players tried to show up every once in a while.
Where in Carmen, San Diego has Kenny Yu gone? I believe we haven’t seen him since the Reagan administration and folks, some of you weren’t even born yet when Ronnie was in office.
The team’s leading scorer (15.4) hasn’t played since mid-September with the team and thus has been born his new nickname: “where are.”
Kenny “where are” Yu?
Whether “where are” shows on Sunday or not is anyone’s guess, but one thing is for sure, Da Bien is still Shawn De Los Reyes’s team. The MVP lost his tag team partner Kevin Park this season when KP decided to go globe-trottin’ and he seemed to be developing a nice rapport with “where are,” but then after he lost the star-guard, things fell more unto his shoulders before he was sidelined for a stretch with strained wrist ligaments.
And you can begin to see why Da Bien finished with a seemingly mediocre 5-4 record this season.
De Los Reyes is still at the top of his game (13.6 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 3.3 apg, and 1.6 spg) and is going to really need to bring it on Sunday in order for the once proud champions to get it back again.
Da Bien dealt the Cruisers their lone loss on the season way back in early September and De Los Reyes is going to have to do some kind of job this time to make it 2 for 2.
He’ll need help in many forms of course.
Inside? Does Kevin Chin show up? The gifted post-player will need to make an appearance and help to control the paint against the Cruiser bigs if they are to survive what will almost certainly be a rebounding disadvantage. He’s putting up good numbers (11.2 ppg, 6.2 rpg) this season, but if he gets double his average in this game, Homecrest is in trouble.
Victor Tang, Ed Chan, and Joe Liu all may or may not show as well and if at least two of them do, Da Bien will be in better shape off the glass as these guys combined to average close to 18 rebounds a game between the three of them this season.
We’ll assume Romeo Baptista won’t suit up (he’s only played in two games), so the X-factors for Da Bien Sunday will be these three guys - Virgilio Borbo, Rick Wong, and Jeff Tu
Everyone knows what Borbo can do and is going to do. He’s attempted only 13 2-point attempts this season. His ability to stretch the defense and keep the pressure on Homecrest’s guards to keep an eye out for him could give De Los Reyes and Chin more room to operate. He’s just a deadly marksman and a joy to watch. If the Cruisers don’t be careful, they’ll be relegated to just spectators watching him just as well.
Wong is another threat to go off at anytime from the perimeter. He’ll mix it up and take some closer shots, but between Borbo and him, they have enough firepower to offset any 3 that CB Liu makes.
Tu, the wily vet, has had a few games this season in which he’s finished with 8-10 points and you didn’t even know he scored. He’s sneaky and will get out on the break ahead of the pack or finish around the rim when you least expect it. He’s the guy that, after you’ve accounted for everyone else on the team, you forget. If he chips in with some points and boards – doing the dirty work – he’ll round out a balanced rotation.
Just as you can't stop this...
On the other side, the Cruisers come into this game not having lost a game since the Da Bien loss. They haven’t just won every game, they’ve won every game by at least 11 points.
The Cruisers – a one-time champ – are an impressive team and show no weaknesses.
They’ve ruled the League and sport an impressive 36-7 overall franchise record over three seasons of play. There is no reason to believe they won’t win it all again this year. There is no Ghee Unit standing in the way and no miracle half-court heave this time.
For them, it all starts from within. Tony Hu and George Chan are once again having typically solid seasons with Chan averaging a double double (11.0 ppg and 10.9 rpg) and Hu just missing a double D average (10.4 ppg, 7.9 rpg). How goes these two inside is how goes the team. With one guy missing, usually the Cruisers can survive, but when both are in the line-up, stopping both is like trying to stop a fat kid from eating. You just can’t.
As Chan and Hu bulldoze their way, wreaking havoc in the point, CB makes sweet music from out top. The sharpshooter is having his best season yet in his DL career, topping the NL at 20.6 ppg. He’s shooting 3’s (47%) better than he is regular field goals and he’s lights out at the foul line (82.6%.) If Da Bien thinks they can relax if they’re somehow containing the bigs inside, they’ve got CB to deal with from outside. He’s the reason their attack has been working so well this season. His shot opens the lanes for the post-men.
Normally, I’d be saying Stan Yeung is the reason the Cruiser attack is vibin’, but not this season. Yeung leads the NL with 5.1 assists each outing, so he’s still running things around here, but there seems to be something off about him. He’s shooting terribly – just 38% (11% from 3) – he can’t get to the line (only 7 attempts on the season), and if it weren’t for his defense (4.6 spg), I’d say he was a shell of his usual self. Outside of his steals, his averages are actually a little down from last season. He’s still an excellent point, probably the best around, and I can’t place my finger on it, but something seems a little off.
Quincy Tso used to be a much greater part of the offense, but in the last couple of seasons, he’s seemed to have taken a step down. His 3-pt percentage is way up from last season, but that not saying much. Last season, he was at an awful 21% and now he’s at 32%. With the lanes clogged and CB shooting so well, all they really need Q to do is chime in from time to time with a shot and to fill out the rotation. That’s saying something about their line-up when a guy who is capable of dropping 49 points in an AL game is your fourth or fifth option in your attack.
The Cruisers' bench is another reason they have been so successful. They are as deep as it comes and it all starts with Mika Ohiorhenuan who will be a handful to deal with for Da Bien. When Hu or Chan goes to the bench for a breath, he can fill in ably down low. If Q or even CB needs to step out, Mika can step in for them. In other words, outside of the point guard, this guy can play 4 spots on the floor, and play them well. His free throws are suspect (36.4%) but he can drain the 3, he boards, he plays long on defense, and never tires.
If Dave Cheng makes an appearance, Homecrest’s range just gets that much longer. Leave him open and he will bury triples at a pace even Borbo could respect. He doesn’t get many opportunities, but he makes the most of them. Garry Yeung is the same thing. He produces when he’s provided with chances. G-Yeung shoots just under 50%. Outside of Chan, no one on the team is more accurate. And how about Warren Cheung? Since this team has so many known quantities, Cheung is the team’s X-Factor. He’s only hit one all season, but if he drops a three or two in a game, things probably aren’t looking good for your team.
So, what’s going to happen? Da Bien has beaten Homecrest once and Homecrest has only lost that one game. Da Bien isn’t a true 4-seed, but they’ve played like it this season while Homecrest has been nothing but on point tip almost the entire time. Revenge is on the Cruisers’ minds, but pride can carry Da Bien a long ways. It’s two proud former champions going at it, not for all the marbles, but to just get to the semifinals. Loser stays alive and could easily get back to face the other in the end. I like Da Bien’s heart, but any way I look at it this season, it seems to be another Cruiser coronation.