2018 WBA Global Division preview
by Timmy Frenchy
A wind of change is blowing through all the WBA and it’s felt in the Global division too. The once mighty Toronto Dinos have fallen. Big time. After a one-sided trade that left this once great team nothing but crumbles, and all the other general managers in awed, we recently learned that was just the tip of the Iceberg. This powerhouse, that went to the WBA Finals three year in a row, was in fact a cheat. Corruption and cheating led this team to be built. So that means that Capetown and Cancun did unfairly miss on some division titles along the way. But that’s history, and now everything has been cleaned up by league’s commissioner and his anti-corruption squad.
It feels like a new era is beginning. As usual, you can expect to see Cancun and Capetown near the top of the standings again. The arrival of new team in this division, the Nigeria Pirates, should spice things up in the rivalry for best team in Africa. Here is the team-by-team profile followed by 2018 season standings predictions.
Nigeria Pirates (formerly Baltimore)
Last season: 28-52(4th in the East Division)
Africa basketball is alive and well. The addition of a third team for this continent is a proof of that. Don’t let the Pirates last season record (in fact the last 4 seasons) fool you, they are a better team than that. Thanks to some late acquisitions in free agency (Victor Pearson and Wu Dian-Fan) by Nigeria management, this team should see a significant increase in their wins total this season. They have a collection of very nice post players that will make them a though team to beat inside. One of those big men is no other than Omar Raoumbe from Senegal.
After being draft by the Giants 6 years ago, Omar was a rising star in Gabon when injury start to slow his progress. Since the Giants had a collection of big man on the roster at the time, Omar was traded and bounced around from one team to another for the last few seasons. During that time, he evolved as a player to become an incredible force inside offensively, scoring almost 22 points per game last season. His ability to get to the line (6 times per game where he shoots 88%), make him very difficult to defend. Omar Raoumbe is now back in his homeland with some polished skills and something to prove.
It will be interesting to see if Nigeria’s management make some moves early in the season has they have lots of options in the post and could upgrade their point guard position. Remi Jeay has been a valuable contributor over the last 3 years for the Pirates, but he’s not getting any younger and could be more efficient as a backup. Of course, the fact that his squad won only 82 games in the last 3 seasons combined, with him as a floor leader, could also be sign that a change is required.
Nevertheless, the Pirates seems to be heading in the right direction and this season should be an exciting one for them. Even a trip to the playoffs is possible scenario. But they will be tested early in the season as this division remains one of the toughest in the league.
Last season: 53-27 (2nd in the Global Division)
Never bet against the Zulus, as this team have been a dominant one for years now. Last season was no exception, as the Zulus had to fight through without their injured superstar Abdiel Gordon for more than 30 games. They still managed to win 53 games, one less than their 5 year-average of 54 wins per season. Quite impressive to see those type of success year after year. They also went to the Conference Finals again last season, their 3rd trip in 5 seasons.
Recipe for Zulu’s success doesn’t only rely on their star players shoulders. Every year, management is able to put on the floor a group of players that will complement each other very well. They can defend efficiently inside as well as outside, they can score from close range or from the deep. They have many options that they can go too and benefit from an experience and very wise coach.
The loss of Ahmed Dougherty in free agency will hurts, as he was one of their main offensive weapons on any given night. Still, I have the feeling that the coaching staff will adapt and find ways to win games, as they always do. Expect another strong season for the Zulus.
Last season: 58-22 (1st in the Global Division)
The Outlaws just finished a very successful season; they were able to capture the division title for the first time since moving in and went all the way to the WBA Finals as the new World Conference Champions. It was there second trip to the big dance in the last 5 years. Although a closer battle was expected against Brooklyn, it remains a great season that Cancun’s fans can be proud of.
And those same fans can be excited for the upcoming season since the Outlaws are back at it with almost the same exact roster. Even a soon to be 38 years old legend named Parker Mason is back, completely redefining the notion of a player’s longevity. The addition of center Isaac Rice is an intriguing one to say the least. His offensive arsenal will be a welcome addition to a team that mainly focus on defense. But Isaac has a shoot first mentality and could be a disturbance as he will steal some of those Trentesols’ shots. His tendency to foul could also be an issue as Rice commits a foul every 8 minutes he spends on the court. Add to that is attitude problem and it becomes a dangerous cocktail for team chemistry. Still, Rice remains a lethal weapon offensively and Cancun management made a wise decision to sign him for only 2 seasons with a team option… just in case.
With most of their core players (Trentesols, Rogers, Hill and Summerall) entering their prime, the Outlaws will be a very dangerous team this season. Currently ranked 3rd in the league’s preseason power ranking, it wouldn’t be surprising to see them capture another division title, and even back-to-back tickets to the WBA finals.
Last season: 44-36 (3rd in the Global Division)
The Giants had a very rough start of season losing 7 of their first 9 games, which led to management making some major moves to shake things. All-Star Charlie Meyers hurt himself for half of the season and was sent packing to Cincinnati. Defensive specialists Matt Archer and Reid Dall were also ship to Arizona, while Raphael Park went to Mexico. With all those moves the Giants acquired more offensive punch in Arturo Fonzarelli, Brian Armstrong, Diego Blizzard, and Frank Ryan.
The team found back their groove, led mostly by their floor general Napoleon Carter. Finishing with the 5th playoff spot in the Conference was satisfying after this difficult debut. But, once again, the Giants hit a brick wall in the first round, getting swept by the Zulus for the second year in a row. Enough said about that.
Although they lost Jarrod Roe in free agency, the Giants made some nice acquisitions in the off-season. The biggest of them all is the young Brenden Avery. His skillset is very impressive, and he has constantly improved over the last few seasons. Questions remains has if he can co-exist with the explosive Napoleon Carter as a backcourt duo. The addition of Tyriq Lang was also welcomed. He’s is no Jarrod Roe, but he should fit nicely in his spot and help this squad right away. Frank Ryan and Diego Blizzard were also resigned to provide sparks off the bench.
This year Giants’ squad may be the most complete and the one with the most depth. But it seems their ceiling is about the same.
Mexico City Hellcats
Last season: 39-41 (4th in the Global Division)
The Hellcats season record was good enough to earn them the 8th and last playoff spot in the conference last season. After missing the playoffs on a tie-breaker the previous season, this must have felt relief to make it last season. They now have been a postseason participant for 2 of the last 3 seasons.
The Hellcats are one the youngest team in the league, has all players are 27 years old and under, except for Raphael Park. Their roster is full of players with potential that need time to develop and some opportunity on the court. And that could be a problem has they have too many of those players and not enough playing time to give them. Also, they have to surround their star Chris Dao with enough talents, so he doesn’t leave via free agency in 2 years. The arrival of rookies Stumpy Goodrich and Inge Adlgasser is a very good start, but they need more.
Owning all their 1st round pick for the next 3 seasons, Hellcats management might want to make a decision regarding the future of this team: Are they a rebuilding team at this point and therefore want to improve via draft selections and free agent acquisition over the next few seasons? Or do they want to compete right now? If they do want to compete right now they might have to make some trades because with their current roster, they are looking at the last playoffs spot once again, at best. Hellcats are stuck in the middle.
2018 Global division predictions:
Cancun Outlaws 60-20
Capetown Zulus 55-25
Gabon Giants 50-30
Nigeria Pirates 40-40
Mexico City Hellcats 37-43