by Timmy Frenchy
Here we are. After a long 80-games season and entertaining action throughout the playoffs, only two remain. Some teams say they could have been there…
In the Western conference, the Oregon Bears were coming three straight finals appearances, and the Salt Lake City Fanatics had the best record in the conference during the regular season. Unfortunately, injuries to star players made them bow early this year. The Capetown Zulus have been on fire for the last few weeks but they came 2 point short in franchise most important game. The Gabon Giants made an unexpected trip to the conference finals but were so not ready for the next step.
In the Eastern conference, the dynamic offense of the Toronto Dinos help them put quite on show on some nights but injuries made them unable to pass the second round. The Miami Xtreme also couldn’t go further than that. The defending champions Paris Juggers fought very hard to get to the conference finals, only to meet an opponent they were not ready to battle.
So enough about teams already kicked out and sore losers. Let’s talk about winners. Here are the two teams still in the hunt for the WBA championship.
Arguably the most successful team in WBA history. They already have 3 championships on 4 appearances in the Finals. The Outlaws teams have always found the perfect chemistry to make sure every little bit of player’s potential is used. Of course, they have incredible leadership and production from superstars Parker Mason, Kent Mercer and Ahmed Dougherty. But it’s often the impact of role players such as Paul Carroll and Reed Moses that make this team so efficient. This squad is very thought to beat, especially in the postseason in which they excel. Tell that to Zulus or the Wild, who couldn’t close out their respective series even after putting Cancun on the brink of elimination multiples times. These Outlaws just won’t quit until they win it all. Again and again.
This team is in full flight right now. They have now vanquished their demons of first round postseason failure. They currently riding a 10 game winning streak and had no trouble dispatching opponents who stood on their path thus far. The dynamic backcourt duo of reigning MVP Mario Bailey and all-star Omar Jefferson is the best there is. They get the job done on both end of the floor. They have a defensive force in the middle in Al Herbert. The Rage has championship experience as they won a title in two appearances in the Finals. This team is as confident as ever and couldn’t be more ready to face the next challenge.
Cancun Outlaws vs Brooklyn Rage
(Brooklyn won regular season series 2-0)
Brooklyn won the first game by 8 points and the second game by 12 points. One game was in Cancun and the other one in Brooklyn. At first that don’t tell much. Let’s look a little deeper and examine some key stats from the shooting guard matchup in these 2 regular season games:
I am not trying to compare the two because we all know that Bailey is the best player. When I am trying to point out is that Dougherty is Cancun leading scorer and Bailey seems quite efficient at shutting him down mostly. And since Dougherty is just an average defender, Bailey could produce offensively as usual. This has to be scary for Cancun coaching staff.
On the other end, we can also take look at the point guard matchup:
It gets a little more interesting. It seems that Mason scoring ability is no match for Jefferson defensive skills. It could also indicate that Jefferson will have a difficult time finding high percentage shoot while matched against the veteran. This is something that Brooklyn has to be aware of.
I will not go deeper statistic wise but I think the backcourt duel between these two teams could very well decide the outcome of the series. Even though it seems that Brooklyn may have a slight in that category, never underestimate the will and leadership of future hall of famer Parker Mason.
It is the second time these two franchises face each other’s in the finals. Five seasons ago Cancun beat Brooklyn 4-2 even though it was the Rage that was holding home court advantage. Cancun like the challenges of playing on the road as they prove it once again this year by winning a game 7 on the road in the second round.
So who will be the last team standing? Will Cancun wisdom and championship experience prevail once again? Will Brooklyn focus and determination get them a second title?
Prediction: Brooklyn over Cancun in 7