CALI CAPTURES CHIP
|NL ALL-DREAM LEAGUE HONORS|
You guys see that Keith Brookings going off on the Vikings’ sidelines this past weekend for what he thought was bush league ball as the Vikes padded to their blowout lead with a meaningless TD in the end that just rubbed salt in the Cowboys’ wounds?
Cali Love didn’t pull a KB, but they shoulda.
Cali Love clinched the NL Championship on Wednesday over an absent A Ball with another lopsided 67-35 win, but while they were running up the score, they should have been running up and down the sideline at the A Ball bench screaming at them for playing bush league ball.
Another game, another absent Usama Nausrudeen, another boring shellacking.
We spent the last post preaching C’Mon Man! but now it’s apparently just hot air. We’ll save it, we’ll let A Ball go think about this, and we’ll turn our attention to praising the victors.
We will do so even if Wilson Wang’s girlfriend came up after the game to offer congratulations but said, “I have to admit that was boring. I wanted to see a closer game.”
Didn’t we all?
Congratulations Cali Love for taking the title back West (kidding, sorta) with a combined 122-74 (2 games) cakewalk in the chip. Cali, this season, truly is king.
The Nic Echevestre - Shawn De Los Reyes Experiment paid off, even if for a stretch at a couple points in the season, there were doubts.
After losing 3 out of 4 at one point, and also after dropping Game 1 of the semis and then nearly dropping Game 2, there was severe doubt that this collection of California (and Shawn) talent had what it takes. It’s often said that the best is west, but if this gang couldn’t prove it here in the 212, then it was, well, to borrow something already written, bush league.
Maybe East was Beast?
As it turned out, fortunes turned Cali’s way ever since Daniel Liu (and this would be his last game of the season it turned out) put back a last second basket at the end of that Game 2 against the Cruisers and they went unblemished the rest of the way.
They’d started out as such too in racing off to a 3-0 record with a couple of tough wins over the Super Spartans and the Cruisers in battles that make men out of boys.
So, while their overall season was blemished – they had 3 losses – there is no better way to be pristine than with bookend perfection. 3-0 to start, 4-0 to finish, lock, stock, and smoking barrel.
While they had severe attendance issues with Brian Liang and Liu (that will always be the case with these globetrotters), their foundation of NicE and SDR, filled out with wiseman Wilson Wang, shifty Mike Won, defensive demon Jameel Udeen, and GM Brian Yang was good enough to represent the 415/310 or whatever other West Coast digits they come from. (Won actually does not hail from CA either, but is instead a Long Island boy.)
CALI LOVE CHAMPS - M. Won, B. Liang, J. Udeen, W. Wang, N. Echevestre, S. Reyes, B. Yang, D. Liu.
It was the perfect blend of athleticism, vets, talent, defense, hustle, and luck. Everything teams who win long championship seasons need.
NicE led the team with 21.9 ppg, 6.6 rpg, and 3.3 apg while SDR averaged 16.2 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 3.3 apg, and 1.5 spg to spearhead an aggressive attack that was hard to stop for any defense. When De Los Reyes told his “agent” in the off-season that he wanted to see what he could do with Ech, this is exactly what he had in mind. When a deal was orchestrated, it was pretty apparent from the first game they had together in a blow-out win over IPC when Ech had 29 and SDR had 15 points and 5 assists, that this was going to be a groovy kind of season.
Whether it will happen again remains to be seen and it was one of the reasons it fed SDR’s fire to get this opportunity before Ech, who is in his final year of law school, returns to San Diego to start his law career come June.
And while these two tore it up, the other guys weren’t just along for the ride.
Wang, who is approaching 40, can still hold his own with anyone half his age. He put in a solid season averaging 11.4 ppg and 5.9 rbg. He hit 3’s when it counted and he often matched up with the opposition’s top player on defense, provided it wasn’t a big man.
Won, who had his first foray into the DL, made it a successful “Won” by averaging 8.4 ppg while shooting 60.7% from the floor. Astounding. Won rarely missed, even if he missed Game 1 of the semis which caused Cali to carry only 4 players that day as well as Game 2 of the Finals which is why the DL must photoshop his photo into the team championship picture.
And speaking of photos and photoshopping (not that he needs it), D-Liu, a rising supermodel superstar, missed out on a ton of games because of that reason. If he wasn’t in LA shooting a commercial for Target, he was here, doing a spread for GQ China or Uniqlo. The man is literally everywhere. The Spartans’ Yoshi Kagitomi saw him on a billboard in Tokyo when he was home during Christmas and said, “I thought I left this man behind when I came home.” Part of that thought goes to the fact that when Liu was in the line-up, he made an impact with his presence. It’s apparent he’s a talented player and he was never able to flourish due to his stop and start with the team. In one game, he showed up in the 4th quarter and his game stats read that he attempted just 1 shot and had a couple rebounds. You’re thinking he’s nothing, but we know otherwise. The lucky part of Cali's season may have been Liu's being in the right place at the right time at the end of Game 2 of the Cruisers' series, but good player put themselves in good positions.
His missing tower counterpart, Liang, was rockstarring in his own show called The Life of Brian in which he regularly sent emails saying he would be out of pocket either in Taiwan, China, Hawaii, Vancouver, or the Bay. When he was around, he hung 8.8 ppg and 8.0 rpg for the season, obviously in deference to his lucky Chinese heritage.
With Liang and Liu, it was really peek-a-boo.
But thanks to Liang, the team also picked up an instrumental force on defense in Udeen, who played with Liang back in the Bay before migrating over for medical schooling purposes. Udeen was easily the team’s best defensive player with his long arms and active hands. He led the team with 2.3 spg and the way he picked the pockets of some of the DL’s top guards like Stan Yeung and James Choi, he was exactly the kind of lock down defender a team like Cali, with a bunch of big guns already, needs.
Another season in the books, another MVP for Echevestre, another example of how the West is best. (Okay, having SDR and Won helped.)
Hey, East Coast, don’t hate the players, hate the game.