2015-16 Chicago Hoops – Playoffs Week 3 (Apr. 17)

Updated: April 20, 2016

Following “ELIMINATION SUNDAY” just 8 of 20 Teams are left in the Chicago Hoops League Playoffs and a number of them are surprises!  The amount of upsets in this year’s Playoffs have eclipsed just about any Playoff run we’ve ever seen in All Sports Series.. It shows just how deep the League truly is and that if you don’t bring your A Game (or full Roster) you have a very good chance of going home.. Remember, last week the lower seeded Team won 7 of 10 Games.. Well, continuing that trend on Sunday.. 6 more “Underdogs” earned victories in Week 3’s 10 Game slate.. This includes both 13. Free Agent and 14. Malvin both Winning 2x on Sunday Night and in the process bouncing top seeds 1. Maione and 2. Bulwa respectively!  Speaking of the top seeds, they were incredible all season long and what they accomplished in the Regular Season with their crazy Winning Streaks are not to be diminished.. Congrats to both on great runs..  OK, so here’s a Link to the updated Playoff Bracket.

Here’s a Link to the Weekly Highlight Video powered by Orunje On-Demand Healthcare!  People have asked about Orunje.. Essentially you can get a Doctor or Nurse Practitioner out to your home/office within 2 hours. No need to waste time going in anymore..  Also, want to give a quick shout-out to the MVP Sponsor for our Chicago Spring Leagues (Floor Hockey and Co-Ed Volleyball) — Wrigley View Rooftop — no better way to take in a Cubs Game with a group of friends/co-workers. If you are thinking of doing this type of thing, let us know, we get deals!

Last thing before we get to the Review,  the All-Stars we’re announced a couple weeks back!  A special Congrats goes out to League MVP Kyle Nelson of Team Zimmerman! Kyle, deservedly so, received the most Votes from the Players. He will be one of the two Captains to select their respective Teams on the final night.. Joining him will be the second-highest vote-getter.. Chris Wroblewski of Team Maione.  If either or both are in the Championship, replacement Captains will be named..
All Star Starters – As VOTED on by PLAYERS (alphabetical after MVP)
MVP: Kyle Nelson – Team Zimmerman, Scott Campbell – Team Lalez, Dave Gershenzon – Team Lalez, Randall Hampton – Team Kozin, Marin Kukoc – Team Gutman, Zack Novak – Team Bulwa, Victor Ojeleye – Team UC Booth, Dylan Richter – Team Harris, Alan Tucci – Team Tucci, Esto Vega – Team Zimmerman, Nick Winbush – Team Bulwa, Chris Wroblewski – Team Maione.
All Star Reserves – Voted on By League Office (alphabetical order)
Justin Bowen – Team Cohen, Josh Davis – Team Kozin, Brad Deutsch – Team Maione, Alex Filin – Team Goldin, Jeff Howard – Team Harris, Nate Johnson – Team Malvin, Benny Lalez – Team Lalez, Tim Szatko – Team Free Agent, Eddie Tellez – Team Apuli.


Playoffs Week 3 Review


8. Team Tucci (Esser Hayes Insurance) v. 18. Team Silver (Kelly Parker HC Gold)

We start here with somewhat of a David v. Goliath feel.. Team Tucci came into the Playoffs just about as hot as any Team in the League and although they were seeded #8, they were certainly among the circle of title hopefuls. Team Silver entered this one after knocking off 15. Schwartz a week ago.. Both Teams have had a lack of depth in recent weeks and it certainly came back to haunt Team Silver in this one..

As the Game got underway Captain Tucci and co. were their usual selfs.. Knocking down 3s and having Drew Zahora clean up the glass inside.. Team Silver battled with them during the first half.. David Holmes was shooting bombs while Ian Shaffer (finished with 26) and Sam Witt were doing everything they could to stay alive.. As the second half started, it was just not enough and 8. Team Tucci would pull away and earn another W on their Playoff mantle. Captain Tucci would finish with 28 points. They were set for a date with 4. Team Zimmerman later in the night..

For Team Silver, they fought incredibly hard all season long and more than anything another body or two this time of year really could have made a big difference.. They are always a pleasure to have in the League and will certainly be back in one iteration or another. Thanks for playing!


12. Team UC Booth (Kelly Parker HC Maroon) v. 13. Team Free Agent (VIP Express Limo)

REMATCH alert.. It’s not often you get to see two Teams tussle in the Playoffs more than once but that’s exactly what we get here with this battle.. All the way back in Week 2 of the Regular Season 12. Team UC Booth knocked off 13. Team Free Agent. Then, two Weeks ago in the Opening Round of the Playoffs, 13. Free Agents avenged that L in a big way and knocked off 12. UC Booth to send them to ELIMINATION GAME territory.. A couple weeks later, their Playoff journeys would cross again and this time, only one would survive..

As the Game got underway, 12. UC Booth tried to play their usual inside-out Game as they so often did during the Regular Season. They have as many capable bigs as any Team in the League.. The difference for them when they play 13. Free Agent is Tim Szatko roams the paint for the Free Agent crew.. He altered so many shots on this night and it really was the difference. UC Booth could never get comfortable.. His D combined with the Offense from both Tred Dean and LaVar Merrell was enough to get 13. Free Agent their second Playoff W over Team UC Booth in 3 Weeks! They’d move on to face 1. Team Maione later in the night!

For 12. Team UC Booth, they have to be proud of what they did this season. They had many highlights and it’s a group that can be built upon for a ton of future success in All Sports Series. All Star Victor Ojeleye was one of the best newcomers in the League and Ben Hanessian has been a solid contributor for years.. They’ll say goodbye to Captain Ed as he moves on to work in the Bay Area. His leadership will certainly be missed. We’ll see them again next Fall and they might just be ready to really take the leap then. Thanks for playing!


11. Team James-Hagari (Biaggi’s Red) v. 14. Team Malvin (Dr. Jacob D.D.S.)

Another Playoff Rematch was on the table here.. These Two Teams had already met twice before this season with each earning one victory.. The most recent was when 14. Malvin won in the Opening Round of the Playoffs a couple Weeks ago and as fate would have it, they’d meet one final time with the Winner moving on and the Loser going home for the Summer..

14. Team Malvin was working with their full deck on Sunday evening and it showed. They were relentless on both ends of the Floor and it was a complete contrast to 11. James-Hagari who was playing with literally no bench on this night.. Team Malvin got a lead and kept it for much of the Game.. James-Hagari would cut a big lead down to just 7 in the closing moments (thanks in large part to Jeff Shukis’ 27 points) but ran out of time and 14. Malvin would advance to play 2. Team Bulwa later in the night!

For 11. James-Hagari, they will leave disappointed, but for a group that were merged together in the pre-season, they earned quite a few victories which is no easy feat in this Hoops League.  Many pieces of this Team will take part in various Summer Leagues so this is not the last we’ve seen of them! Thanks for playing!


10. Team Sternberg (Pear Tree Catering) v. 17. Team Apuli (Chicago Trolley)

This turned into one of the best Games of the Night.. Both Teams believed they could win two on this night and you could tell that they were both going to fight until the final buzzer.. 17. Team Apuli got hot from the start and went out to an early lead.. They would eventually get it up to 18 at one point.. 10. Team Sternberg is not a group to just roll over though.. So they dug down deep and began to mount their comeback… In the closing minute of the Game they were able to actually tie the Game up at 84.  With under 30 seconds to go the same aggressive D that had helped them catch up might have bit them a little.. A foul was called near the top of the key and it would send 17.  Team Apuli to the line for an eventual Game Winner and they’d move on! Rob Kamentsev finished with 28. Next up for them was 3. Team Harris.

For 10. Team Sternberg, it’s obviously a tough pill to swallow on their final night in the Hoops League.  They had an excellent first year in the Hoops League though and should look at all of the positives.. They were one of a few squads to have all Rookies to this specific All Sports League and managed to finish in the top half during the Regular Season. They are a group that can win the Crown in the future and they will get back to work shortly as you will see several different “Team Sternberg” groups this Summer in many different All Sports Series Leagues. Thanks for playing guys!



4. Team Zimmerman (Biaggi’s Navy) v. 8. Team Tucci (Esser Hayes Insurance)

More so than any ELIMINATION GAME thus far, this one was set between two titans of the League and it meant that one of them were going to go home earlier than they’d like..  Both are capable of getting on a roll and running the table. Would it be easy? No.  Doable? Yes.  Only one could advance from this Game though..  8. Team Tucci comes into this Game fresh off their contest with 18. Team Silver and their depth would certainly be put to the test here.. 4. Team Zimmerman was able to start this Game fresh.. As the Game got going it was clear that the Zimmerman group had brought their best on Sunday Night.. MVP Kyle Nelson would score 28 on the night. They began to build a double digit lead and never really looked back.. 4. Team Zimmerman would move on and be apart of Week 4.. They will take on 13. Team Free Agent on May 1 (and potentially a couple other Teams as well).

For 8. Team Tucci, they’ll continue to fly under the radar for at least a few more months.. Their slow start didn’t allow for them to garner the recognition that they truly deserve from the rest of the Teams in the League but they are among the elite on Sunday Nights and this core is capable of winning the whole thing.. Their goal, when we get back in the Fall for the start of the 2016-17 Hoops League, is to get off to a better start and that should improve their seeding and, thus, their Playoff run! Thanks for playing!


1. Team Maione (popchips) v. 13. Team Free Agent (VIP Express Limo)

Entering the Playoffs, 1. Team Maione had only lost once all season and had rode a 14-GM W-Streak.. They were dominant.  They had a BYE on the Opening Night of the Playoffs so their first Playoff matchup was with Rivals 9. Team Kozin last week.. In that Game, Team Kozin used a swarming Zone D and it really disrupted the heralded Maione Offense.. That sent 1. Maione to ELIMINATION zone and they awaited the Winner of the 12. UC Booth and 13. Free Agent Game.. 13. Free Agent took care of business as they have multiple times in the Playoffs and it set up a battle for survival between the old-guard and a peaking Team in their first Playoff run..

From the tip to the final buzzer this Game was closely contested.. Neither Team would give an inch and never was the lead out of reach.. They would trade big shots with one another for 44 minutes.. All Star Tim Szatko was an absolute force in the paint and really changed the complexion of this Game.. He finished with 32! Team Maione needed to focus many Players on him on the Defensive End and it really opened things up for everyone else.. The Free Agents led late in Regulation but All Star Chris Wroblewski willed the #1 Team back from the dead and hit many big shots in the closing moments of Regulation (he’d end with 36).. 44 minutes was just not enough to decide this one and we headed to Overtime! In OT, 13. Team Free Agent would strike first and as is so often the case in OT, they were able to then dictate the remaining minute to earn the stunning victory!  The Free Agents, improbably, are among the Elite 8 left in the League as we head to the 4th Week of the Playoffs on May 1!

For 1. Team Maione, they along with Team Lalez and a couple other Teams are the gold-standard in not just the Hoops League but All Sports Series. The Leagues have been built on the backs of these guys and while they still search for their first Hoops League Crown, their accomplishments are vast… We’ll see them again this Summer in the Hoops League and when the 2016-17 Hoops League begins in October, they will be one of if not THE favorites once again.  Thanks again for playing guys.


2. Team Bulwa (Le Brocq Lawyer) v. 14. Team Malvin (Dr. Jacob D.D.S.)

On paper, this was supposed to be a rebound affair for 2. Team Bulwa who entered the Playoffs with a record-breaking 15 GM Win Streak.. However, last week in their first Playoff Game, they were tremendously short-handed, missing 4 of their 5 normal starters and dropped the Game to 7. Team Goldin..  Unfortunately, timing is everything and they were once again shorthanded this past Sunday. They knew if they had gotten through this weekend, they’d once again be full strength on May 1 and have a shot of hoisting the Crown.. In their way was of course 14. Team Malvin who was fresh off an ELIMINATION GAME W over 11. James-Hagari minutes earlier..

14. Team Malvin didn’t feel bad for Team Bulwa for one second and carried the momentum from their first Game into this one.. With their Roster of 9, they were able to push the tempo and just out-man 2. Team Bulwa who were playing with just 5 on this day.. Even with Zack Meuser’s heroics (he had 41) it was not enough.. 14. Team Malvin would pull the rare Playoff Double Header Sweep and they’d move on to Week 4! Matt Merrigan led the scoring charge with 24 for the Winners.  Waiting for them will be 3. Team Harris and maybe 1 on or 2 more opponents depending on how hot they can stay..

For 2. Team Bulwa, there’s not much that can be said other than the truth.. Since November they were the best Team in the League and they were the group that many pegged as the Team to finally dethrone Team Lalez.. That was at full strength however and they weren’t even close to that in these final couple of weeks. It’s a shame and undoubtedly a “one that got away” scenario. They will be back. They are mainstays and they will once again be considered favorites.. Thanks for playing guys!


3. Team Harris (DoorDash) v. 17. Team Apuli (Chicago Trolley) 

For the second consecutive year, 3. Harris dropped their first Playoff Game of the Season after a tremendous Regular Season.. The difference this year?  Dylan Richter is not gone for the entire Playoff run this Season.. And the additions of Jeff Howard and Mike Goldstein haven’t hurt either.. They found themselves in ELIMINATION territory against the hot 17. Team Apuli have been a top flight Team since February. They had also won 3 Playoff Games already this year heading into this one..  They are used to the pressure at this point..

Both Teams gave tremendous effort in what was a fast paced Game.. Both Offensives showed off their full arsenals here.. The Game saw 3. Team Harris build up a lead into the second half but 17. Team Apuli was never truly out of it.. They continued to fight, but eventually just ran out of time.. Rob Kamentsev would finish with 31 for Team Apuli and Eddie Tellez added 25. 3. Team Harris moves on and will play 14. Team Malvin (and maybe a couple more) on Sunday May 1 as they are among the Elite 8 Teams..

For 17. Team Apuli, their turnaround in the second half of the season truly speaks volumes.. They went from an 0-11 Team to a group that was playing deep into the Playoffs.  Not many groups have that type of ability.. They showed what they are made of and they of course will be back both this Summer and next Fall. If they can find just one more piece they could be playing for the Crown at this time next year. Thanks for playing guys!



As the dust settled on the ELIMINATION GAMES, the Final Four Teams without a Loss took the Court with a TON on the line.. At stake here were guaranteed spots in Championship Sunday. The Two Teams that Win these Games are guaranteed to be 2 of the 3 Teams left standing on the Final Sunday.  They will also compete with one another with the Winner going to the Championship and having a commanding hold on the League’s final night.. The Team left standing with No Losses will have to be defeated 2x by whoever makes it through the gauntlet that is ELIMINATION GAME territory.. So, 1 of these 4 Teams will have that luxury.. For the two Teams that Lose these Games they will take part in 1 or 2 ELIMINATION GAMES when we return on May 1…


6. Team Gutman (Teplitz & Bell) v. 7. Team Goldin (StudentCity)

Now that the stage has been set above, let’s recap how both of these Teams got here.. 6. Team Gutman took care of 14. Team Malvin on the Opening Night of the Playoffs and then went on to “upset” 3. Team Harris last week and did so in impressive fashion.. As for 7. Team Goldin, they won back to back Games last week and with just 5 guys over the tough 10. Team Sternberg and then took down 2. Team Bulwa in one of the more memorable nights of the Playoffs thus far.. Both squads are obviously deserving of being in these spots.. But only one can assure their place on Championship Sunday…

This Game was back and forth for much of the first half. It was a low scoring Game, as was expected, with so many big bodies clogging up driving lanes and getting hands in jump-shooters faces.. As the second half wore on, Team Gutman’s depth began to shine-through.. They were able to parade a cast of long defenders through the Game and they didn’t allow Team Goldin to transition from Defense to Offense well, as is so often the case… This Game stayed tight throughout and it was actually tied with under 15 seconds to go.. All Star Marin Kukoc found himself with the ball on the right wing and sliced to the rim for the Game Winner and it was 6. Team Gutman who earned the W!  Andy Marks had 22 in this one. They will be apart of Championship Sunday and have a real opportunity on May 1 to cement their place as front-runners when they take on 9. Team Kozin.. As for 7. Team Goldin, we aren’t sure who their opponent will be just yet because of Reseeding but they are among the Elite 8 (and actually they are in the Final-6 Teams) and are certainly capable of battling back to get a potential rematch with this 6. Gutman crew..


5. Team Lalez (Orunje) v. 9. Team Kozin (Camp Ojibwa)

The Main Event of the evening.. A Championship Rematch from last year and with so much on the line.. What else could we ask for?  Let’s set the table a bit.. 5. Lalez defeated 13. Free Agent on Opening Night of the Playoffs and then battled 4. Team Zimmerman a week ago.. Picking up Ws in both Games.. 9. Team Kozin started the Playoffs with a W over 16. Team Cohen.. Then last week, they defeated 8. Team Tucci to set up a battle with #1 Team Maione who they also ousted.. Both Teams knew exactly what was at stake and both played like it..

9. Team Kozin’s Defensive intensity has been ramped up since the Playoffs tipped off a few weeks ago and Sunday Night was no exception.. They broke out a 1-3-1 Zone that they may have actually picked up from Team Lalez, when they played in the Regular Season.. They used their length on the Defensive end to keep the 2x Defending Champs uncomfortable all Game long.. 9. Team Kozin was able to build up a double digit lead in the second half and then were able to ice the Game down the stretch to secure their place in Championship Sunday for the 2nd straight year!  Randall Hampton, who may be the most underrated player in the entire League, finished with 24 points. As for the 2x Defending Champs 5. Team Lalez.. They are no strangers to having their backs against the wall.. We will not know their opponent but we do know they will be among the Final6 Teams left and are a couple Ws away from getting to their 3rd straight Championship Sunday.  They’ve never lost an ELIMINATION GAME in the Hoops League. No one else can claim that.  No reason to doubt them now..


That’s it for this week! Thanks again for those Teams who lost their final Games on Sunday! We’ll see you soon! To the rest of the Teams, rest up! See you on May 1.