2014-15 Hoops – Playoffs Week 5 (April 19)

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Updated: April 23, 2015

Championship Sunday is set.  Who’s still alive?  We’ll get to that in a few minutes.. Games this Sunday dictate that we start the Playoff Recap a bit differently this week..

On Sunday Night, Team Zimmerman became the first Team in the history of All Sports Series (Hoops League or any other) to Win 3 Hoops Games in one Night… Add to that fact that they were all Playoff Games and on top of that each were ELIMINATION GAMES.  Just an incredible feat. All-Star Esto Vega went for over 100 Total Points on the Night.. An All Sports Series Record.  With their 3 ELIMINATIONS on Sunday Night.. They totaled 4 this Season —  a new Hoops League Record.  They ended the night with a fourth and final Game.. More on that below.. To sum it up.. Team Zimmerman’s performance on Sunday Night is without a doubt the most impressive single-night in All Sports Series history. period.

Not to be out done.. An hour later, Defending Champs Team Lalez, matched Team Zimmerman with their 3rd Win of the Night! The Defending Champs went toe to toe with the League’s Elite and came out on top in 3 straight.. For their efforts they’ve locked up a second straight Championship appearance in as many years in the Hoops League.

In an interesting twist, it’s important to note that as the night went on we were left with Five Teams still standing at one point.. Team Lalez, Team Kozin, Team Maione, Team Zimmerman and Team Goldin..  If that looks familiar, and it should, it’s because that is an identical Final Five from last year.. With all the improvements and new blood spread out throughout the League there is something to be said for Playoff Experience.. These Five Teams found a way to make it to the end once again.. Different paths got them there but in the end all that matters is the destination..  More on who the last 3 Teams competing on Championship Night Below.

HOUSEKEEPING NOTES:

Both Championship and All-Star Sunday HAVE BEEN MOVED TO SUNDAY MAY 3!  THERE WILL BE NO GAMES ON SUNDAY APRIL 26!

Also, Here’s a Link to the Weekly Highlight Video. The second to last one of the year..

 

Playoff Recap

ELIMINATION GAMES – 5pm

3. Team Zimmerman (Biaggi’s Orange) v. 8. Team Bernkopf (Stems) – 3. Team Zimmerman 83-78

As mentioned above Team Zimmerman rattled off three straight ELIMINATION GAME Ws to begin Sunday Night. Their first opponent was 8. Team Bernkopf who happened to give them the closest Game of those three Ws. This Game went down to the wire and truly could have gone either way..  In the end, Team Zimmerman’s 3-headed Monster of Kyle Nelson, Esto Vega and Eugene Connor who all went for over 20 points were just too much..

Team Bernkopf scratched and clawed all year long.. They battled pre-season injuries, roster shake-ups and a tough schedule before the Playoffs even began.  They end the season tied for 7th in what was an insanely deep Hoops League. They should be proud of the run they went on.. They are always among the favorites when the Chicago Men’s Summer League rolls around and 2015 will be no different for this cast of past Champs.

2. Team Harris (Chicago Trolley & Double Decker Co.) v. 10. Team Hernandez (Kelly Parker Home Collective) – 10. Team Hernandez 86-59

For the second time in the Playoffs  10. Team Hernandez knocked off the highly seeded 2. Team Harris.. This time everything was on the line.. 10. Team Hernandez earned another hour for their season.. For Team Harris, they will likely leave feeling “what could have been?” They had terrible luck regarding the roster just as the Playoffs were getting started.. All Star Dylan Richter headed to NYC for a job venture (congrats!) and with that came just a tough blow for Team Harris. They managed to tough out an extended run however and managed to hand some Teams Playoff defeats in the process.. They are a squad to watch as they’ll be in the Chicago Men’s League again this Summer and as well next year in the Hoops League. This time next year they may be holding the crown..

ELIMINATION GAME – 6pm

3. Team Zimmerman (Biaggi’s Orange) v. 10. Team Hernandez (Kelly Parker Home Collective) – 3. Team Zimmerman 91-61

Team Zimmerman was just money in this one, specifically, Esto Vega who went for 26.  3. Team Zimmerman would continue on into the Final Five for the second straight year and would face 7. Team Goldin for a spot in the Final4.

Let’s turn to 10. Team Hernandez for a moment.. Let’s take a show of hands of who thought this Team would finish in 6th place all the way back in November?  This squad was 2-5 and then 3-9 at different points of the Season but they never stopped building and growing.. They were a Team of Free Agents that learned to play together and it shows why this Hoops League is a special beast.. In most situations these guys led by All Star Dave Altman and a true Captain Eric Hernandez would never of had the chance to gel.. Instead in 2015 they figured it out, went on a run, grabbed a 10 seed and managed to win 3 Playoff Games against Teams seeded 7 or higher.. This group really turned into a Team and it was fun to watch it happen. Congrats on a great run!

1 Loss Bracket – 6pm

1. Team Maione (Biaggi’s Blue) v. 4. Team Lalez (Crystal Lake CDJ) – 4. Team Lalez 70-52

With all of the ELIMINATION GAMES taking place it almost went under the radar that we were going to be treated yet another Championship Rematch from last season.. Team Maione had gotten a bit of revenge back in the second week of the Playoffs, sending Team Lalez down to the 1 Loss Bracket.. Their paths managed to cross once again and this time the stakes were even higher.. The Winning Team would move on to face 6. Team Kozin where they would enter a set of Games to get a spot into the Championship.. The Loser would fall into ELIMINATION GAME territory later in the evening..  Quickly, want to give a Welcome Back to Tellef Lundeval for Team Maione!

A brief recap of this storied rivalry was provided a few weeks ago and it deserves repeating..

In the 2013-14 Regular Season, they split 1-1.. In Last year’s Playoffs, Defending Champs Team Lalez won in Week 3 of the Playoffs against Team Maione, but Team Maione battled back to get to the Championship nonetheless..  On Championship Night, Team Lalez entered with 1 Loss and Team Maione had 2.. That meant, Team Maione needed to defeat Team Lalez in back to back Games to win the Crown.. Team Maione took care of business in that first Championship Game, tied the season series at 2-2 and forced a Winner take all Championship Game 2.. Team Lalez, of course, won that Game and with it the Crown.  Team Maione had been brewing on that for months on end and finally got a sliver of retribution a couple months ago when they defeated Team Lalez during the Regular Season..”  Tack on Team Maione taking the 7th Meeting and here we are for #8.

Team Lalez got hot early and that continued for much of this one.. In fact, Team Lalez opened up what appears to be the biggest lead in the history of this series at one point during the Game. Team Maione for the second straight week couldn’t get the ball to stay down and it was Team Lalez who took this crucial game rather handily.. They’d move on to face 6. Team Kozin while 1. Team Maione would have to wait an hour to play in their first ELIMINATION GAME of the season which certainly is coming at an in-opportune time since they are currently under their first losing slide of the season.. Can they bounce back with their season on the line?

ELIMINATION GAME – 7pm

3. Team Zimmerman (Biaggi’s Orange) v. 7. Team Goldin (Cy Fredrics) – 3. Team Zimmerman 75-61

A spot in among the Final Four Teams was on the line here.  Many expected 7. Team Goldin to come in and roll the exhausted 3. Team Zimmerman in this one who had just played two games.. However, momentum is a crazy, adrenaline filled thing.. Team Zimmerman Kyle Nelson was physically drained after shouldering a ton in the first two Games and really didn’t see the court in much of this one.. That gave the opportunity for the rest of his crew to show-off their depth.. Esto Vega went for a game-high 33 in this one.  He was electric… When the final buzzer sounded it was Team Zimmerman with their hands held high for the third straight Game in as many hours.. High might be an exaggeration. They could barely move after it..  Also, want to send a get better soon to Ross Neuman who got took a nice shot to the face in this one..

For Team Goldin, for the second straight year they are among the League’s elite.  They have one of the best core’s in the League and that is evidenced by their Playoff success.  These Guys won 4 Playoff Games this Year in an extremely deep field.. Enough really can’t be said about their tenacity on each end of the floor. Every Team in the League knows that when you line up against them you are in for a battle..  They may be just one more shooter away.. If they can land that in the off-season they could be THE odds on favorite as opposed to one of.. Congrats on another successful year!

No Loss/1 Loss Bracket – 7pm

6. Team Kozin (Theory) v. 4. Team Lalez (Crystal Lake CDJ) – 4. Team Lalez 64-61

Here’s what’s at stake in this one.. 6. Team Kozin wins and they are into the Championship with NO Losses meaning whoever meets them at the end will have to beat them THREE STRAIGHT TIMES. If 4. Team Lalez wins they force an immediate Rematch where the Winner of that Game heads to the Championship with 1 Loss..

This was a well-played hard-fought contest, as you’d expect from the Defending Champs and the Team in the best position to take that title away.. The Teams traded the lead many times over.. It was big shot after big shot in the second half.. All Stars Dave Gershenzon and Josh Davis went for 20+ for their respective Teams.. Team Lalez showed no signs of fatigue after just defeating the #1 overall Seed – Team Maione in the previous set of Games.. A true showing of their great depth..

In the closing moments it was Team Lalez who did just enough to get their second straight W of the Night to force an instant Rematch between these two top contenders..

1 Loss Bracket – 8pm – REMATCH – WINNER GOES TO CHAMPIONSHIP

6. Team Kozin (Theory) v. 4. Team Lalez (Crystal Lake CDJ) – 4. Team Lalez 61-39

OK so the stage changes a bit now that 4. Team Lalez one the first match-up between these two.. The Winner would head to the Championship Game where their opponent will have to defeat them two straight times..  The Loser will play the Winner of the 1. Team Maione v. 3. Team Zimmerman for a spot in the Championship Game as a 2-Loss Team..

The stakes really don’t get much higher.. Team Kozin was coming off their first Loss in months really and it wasn’t an easy transition for them.. They were ailing a bit from Game 1 and although 4. Team Lalez had played another Game their depth enabled them to really keep pushing the tempo in the aggressor role.. Before too long the Defending Champs had opened up a lead that would not falter.. For the second consecutive year 4. Team Lalez heads to the Championship Game with just a Loss on them.. They have two shots now to claim #Back2Back Crowns.  The road this year was certainly harder but the result thus far has been the same.. Impressive stuff gentlemen!

For 6. Team Kozin, they just need to shake the night off.  They are still just one Game away from the Championship.. At the end of the day that’s all that matters.. They are in a spot that they absolutely would have wanted had you asked them in October.. They are into the League’s final night and will finish in the Top 3. Will it be a tough task to defeat either Maione/Zimmerman and then Lalez twice? Yes!  But they’ve shown throughout these Playoffs that they can defeat anyone.. If they bring their best on May 3 they can be the ones left standing..

ELIMINATION GAME – 8pm

1. Team Maione (Biaggi’s Blue) v. 3. Team Zimmerman (Biaggi’s Orange) – 1. Team Maione 90-67

The final ELIMINATION GAME of the night was as star-studded as it gets.  Both Teams, among the Final Four left standing, were competing for the right to take part in Championship Sunday. The Winner would move on to face 6. Team Kozin in the final ELIMINATION GAME of the season on Championship Sunday.. The Winner of that Game would move on to face 4. Team Lalez in the Championship, where they’d need to defeat them 2 more times.  So the magic number for both clubs to hold the crown is at 4.  Can’t get to 4 without starting at #1 however..

It’s well documented that 3. Team Zimmerman had won three straight ELIMINATION GAMES to get to this point in the night. An amazing and un-matched feat in the history of All Sports Series.. 1. Team Maione are apart of this Game after uncharacteristically dropping two straight Games.. It was evident from the opening tip that Team Zimmerman just gave everything they possibly could in the first three Games.. That being said they were leading by 3 points at half-time! Everyone in the gym could not believe their eyes.. Could this really be happening?  Then there was a 180 turn..  Team Maione was able to regain their regular form and confidence throughout the beginning of the second half.. They went on a run that proved to be the fatal to Team Zimmerman..

1. Team Maione did what they had to do and got a Win to earn their second straight trip to Championship Sunday.  They are in a familiar spot as it was exactly 1 year ago that they needed to defeat Team Goldin (they did) before moving on to take on Team Lalez for hopefully two more Wins.. Last year they got to Overtime in that second game but came up just a little short.. They are 3 Wins away from true redemption.

For Team Zimmerman.. What’s more to say? True warriors.  Let’s be honest.. They weren’t supposed to get a 4th Game.. But they did.. Not only did they get there.. They were in it and winning.. They finish at #4 and they should be extremely proud of themselves..  People will be talking about their performance on Sunday Night for years to come..

 

That’s it for this week.. Just one more week on Sunday May 3. Congrats to those that are still in it! See ya then!

– Holden