by Timmy Frenchy
Miami Xtreme vs Brooklyn Rage
(season series split 1-1) vs Miami Xtreme
Considered by a majority the most hated team in the league, the Rage finished the regular season with the best record in the league. They are led by MVP Mario Bailey with an average of 31 points per game in these playoffs. This shooting guard is the complete package and every GM in the league wish he was on their team. His sidekick Omar Jefferson is no slouch neither as he average around 20 points, 7 assists and 5 rebounds in the postseason. Brooklyn regular season success has been well documented over the years, so are the playoffs failures. In 11 playoff appearances, 5 of them resulted in first round exit. Team management were nervous of that happening again this season as the Rage and the Hitmen were tied 2-2. Even though Brooklyn managed to won the next 2 games, there are still doubts remaining regarding this team ability to handle playoff pressure.
The Miami Xtreme had very difficult time getting rid of the Baltimore Pirates in the first round. They are glad this series is over. Oh wait, now they have to face to best team in the league. The Xtreme has a very efficient offense led by Dave Troychak, Jaxon McCall and Oman Fatafehi. Isaac Edmonston is one of the best at distributing the rock and will help these guys score lots of points. But this team has also some weakness as they commit lots of fouls and they turn the ball over often.
This series should be an offensive juggernaut. The matchup between Bailey and Troychak will be an interesting one. But Brooklyn overall offensive skills will be too much for Miami defense. The Rage will gain confidence as the series progress.
Prediction: Brooklyn over Miami in 5
Paris Juggers vs Toronto Dinos
(Paris won season series 2-1) vs Toronto Dinos
The defending champion had a good but quiet season finishing third in the conference and 8th overall. Winning 50 games in a season is still a good achievement but for a team that won the championship and 63 games last year this is kind of a step back. Still, there have been some major changes to this roster as only 5 players remains from last year (Al Lee, Jay Vasquez, Scott Lio, Anthony Curtis and Luo-Kung Liu). The Juggers are a good rebounding team who plays very under control defensively as they don’t foul much. London was no match for them in the first round.
The Toronto Dinos had a major scare in the first round as the Rochester Raiders took a 3-0 lead. They did comeback in an impressive manner and that should give them fuel to get further. They are led by Walt Jackson, one the biggest stars of this league. Assist machine Jervan Timmons leads a balanced attack and make sure every player is involved. This team has impressed this season and won 12 more games than last year. They are a team to watch for many years to come.
Prediction: The Juggers have reached to finals the last 2 years and they still believe they have what it takes to get there again. The Dinos are not quite at that level yet.
Prediction: Paris over Toronto in 6
Gabon Giants vs Salt Lake City Fanatics
(Salt Lake City won season series 3-0)
The Fanatics took care of business in the first round dispatching the Sacramento Fighting Cocks in only 4 games. Don’t think that all is great right now in SLC because those 4 wins came at a high cost; they lost all-star Cordell Parks and starting power forward Sean Ashman as both of them went down with injuries. With 2/3 of their frontcourt on the shelves for the second round, SLC will look to rely even more on center Wally Birkhead to provide defence and rebounding. Veteran Eugene Lemaitre, who has been a scoring machine since playoff started with an average of 30 points per game, will have to continue is hot streak on the offensive end for the Fanatics to continue their playoff run.
The Giants have benefit from injuries to Oregon Bears key players to beat them 4-1 in the first round. Losing 2 all-stars over the course of the series (with one being the current defensive player of the year), was too difficult of a task for the Bears. The Giants entered the second round fully healthy but they have not been able to beat the Fanatics once this season. The young core of Charlie Meyers, John Devine and Jarrod Roe will do their best to continue their dream season but challenging the conference champion, even though dealing with key injuries, will be a true test for them.
As some reporters mentioned earlier, the Giants have been playing over their head this season. All good things must come to an end. The Fanatics will beat the Giants in a close hard-fought seven-game-series.
Prediction: Salt Lake City over Gabon in 7
Cancun Outlaws vs Capetown Zulus
(season series split at 2-2)
The Capetown Zulus ended the season on an impressive run, winning the last 14 games and securing second place in the Eastern Conference on a tie-breaker with Cancun. Home-court advantage could well make the difference in this series with these two teams being evenly matched. The Zulus took care of business against the Dragons in the first round dropping only one game in Seoul. They lost reserve Oshodi Bombata (strained back) for a little more than 2 weeks but they should be fine at center since they have Justice Grant, Abdiel Gordon and Obamefi Mabruke who could fill the hole by playing more frontcourt minutes. This team is on a mission right now and it will be very difficult to stop them. Capetown is as close as ever of reaching the conference finals for the first time in team’s history.
Cancun is arguably the most successful team in WBA history. They have reached the conference finals 7 times, and won 3 championships over 4 finals appearances. Even though some of their stars like Parker Mason and Kent Mercer may have pass their primes, other like Ahmed Dougherty are peaking at the right moment to make sure this team is staying on top. First round battle against Omaha Wild was quite a challenge but this may be the wake up call they needed to get back to championship form. Fans can’t wait to see a healthy Reed Moses back in action to help strengthen Outlaw’s inside defense. They will need him against a tough Zulus frontcourt.
These teams are so good they could have met in the conference finals. It will come down to who is able to close out games. Cancun vast playoff experience will be the difference maker here. Capetown will come very close but they will fall in a heartbreaking game 6 overtime thriller.
Prediction: Cancun over Capetown in 6