VBL Playoffs – Battle of the Top 12!

All Photo Credits – @D.avyds

Quarter-Finals Schedule

#1 Sunblock x Soleworld (5-1)vs#9 Timeless (5-3)
#2 HoopBus x Woodies (5-1)vs#12 BBall Junkies (4-4)
#3 In the Lab (5-1)vs#6 Born x Raised (5-2)
#4 XvsX Sports (5-1)vs#5 Sneakers’N’Stuff (5-2)

Top 12 Results

MatchupPlayer of the Game
7. Future Mood Studios v 11. B-Ball Junkies
45 – 48
Zach Hinton
8. Project Backboard v 9. Timeless
48 – 59
Zach Andrews
5. Sneaker’N’Stuff 13. Hard to Guard
72 – 65
Garrick ‘DreamChaser’ Wilson
6. Born x Raised 10. Fentwood Hoops
79 – 62
Laquavius ‘ Q’ Cotton

Week 7 – Sunday July 31st

Top 10 Plays of the Week!

BBall Junkies vs Future Mood Studios

Game 1 of the Top 12 round of the VBL playoffs tipped off under a thin patch of clouds fighting to keep the blazing SoCal sun at bay. In a rematch of a crucial week 5 matchup, 7th seeded Future Mood Studios faced the 11th seeded BBall Junkies. In their past matchup, Future Mood’s Grizzly Moonz and BBJ’s MVP candidate Zach Hinton contributed to one of the season’s most entertaining games, with the pair both dropping 30+ in a buzzer-beater finish which ultimately earned Future Mood a bye and relegated BBJ to the play-ins.

In the second leg, BBJ earned their revenge, winning 48 – 45. With 23 pts and 14 rebs, his 6th double double of the season, birthday-boy Zach Hinton earned his 4th player of the game honors and a matchup in the quarterfinals vs #2 seeded HoopBus x Woodies as his VBL gift. BBJs game-plan, which has contributed to 4 wins over their past 6 games has been relatively simple, give the ball to Zach and get out of the way. Equally strong driving downhill in transition as clogging the paint in the half-court, Zach has scored effortlessly crafting a bag of midrange pulls, hard-nose drives and gritty second chance points. Teammates Zay, 8 pts 6 asts and AJ Basco, 5 asts 4 stls were notable performers in the victory.

For team Future Mood Studios, their season has come to an end. Led by their most consistent performer Grizzly Moons, 15 pts 5 asts, the sunglass specialists must be commended for their entertaining team-oriented basketball. Picking up Julian ‘JuJu’ Ducree, 10 pts 1 sitdown and LJ Harris, 12 pts, 8 rebs, yielded creative, high-flying basketball throughout the season. VBL Rookie Rasheet Wilson provided an undersized spark racking up assists and performing as the ultimate roll-player in his debut season. Coached emphatically by Ian Pierno, Future Mood Studios will look to bolster their team and return stronger next year.

Timeless vs Project Backboard

Our 2nd game of the day vied 9th seeded Timeless against 8th seeded Project Backboard. Stacking on a win over Leune in the play-in, Timeless outlasted PBB for a statement victory 59 -48, playing with their full and intact all-star roster for the first time in over a month. With no loss of chemistry, Timeless rediscovered their start-of-season spark, and was able to take control of a back-and-forth game in the 4th quarter on the backs of Elvin ‘Harlem World’ Rodriguez, South Bay Laker big Zach Andrews and top 5 scorer Dame ‘God’s Prodigy’ Young. Timeless will face number #1 Sunblock x Soleworld, led by Julius ‘Juice’ Billbrew in the VBL Quarterfinals on August 14th. The last time these teams faced off made history when Juice put on the performance of a lifetime, breaking the league’s scoring record, scoring 63, while setting a second all-time league’s record for three-pointers made in a game hitting 13.

Timeless was led by player of the game Zach Andrews, who marked his return to VBL with a tomahawk sit-down slam over several defenders. Andrews would finish with a double-double stat line of 12 pts and 13 rebs. The power backcourt duo of Prodigy, 10 pts, and Elvin, 16 points 7 asts, remains amongst the league’s most dangerous. Averaging 23 ppg in his rookie season, Rodriguez finds himself very much in the mix for the VBL scoring title trailing just 6 points behind BBJ’s Zach Hinton.

Project Backboard concludes their season with an impressive performance against a top team, but unfortunately finds themselves packing their bags. Holding a surprising lead until the end of the 3rd quarter, Project Backboard relied on Marc Anthony, 14 points, and newcomer Drew Edelman, who dominated in her VBL debut, with 11 hard earned points from the paint. Though virtually unstoppable in the first half of play, prompt Timeless defensive adjustments by coach Bobby Champion limited her production and ultimately earned his squad a victory in the second half.

Hard to Guard vs SNS

Game 3 paired 13th seeded Hard to Guard against the reigning ’21 champions 5th seeded Sneakers’n’Stuff. Hard to Guard wrote their ticket to top 12 play on Saturday, upsetting 12th seeded Top Dawg, but came up short falling to SNS 72 – 65.

SNS, true to their core, saw the entire team contribute, with all-in stifling defense, a 10 player rotation, selfless assists and impeccable coaching, with every player on the roster impacting the game and recording stats in the victory. The leading scorers for SNS: 2021 MVP and Defensive Player of the Year, Garrick “Dream Chaser” Wilson, 18 pts, 6 asts, and 2021 Finals MVP, Jordan Giusti, 14 pts. Dream Chaser earned Player of the Game honors. With exceptional team chemistry SNS feels poised for another deep postseason run, but will be tested immediately in their quarterfinal matchup against 4th seeded XvsX Sports

Hard to Guard has much to be proud of in their performance, providing one of the highest scoring games against the league’s #1 defense. ‘JuiceThaAthlete’ kept Hard to Guard in the game scoring an impressive 16 points on several threes. Hard to Guard were hurt by the 4th quarter loss of important player, Jeff Montenegro, 6 pts 6 stls, whose fierce defense fouled him out for the second time in two days. Doing all they cold to keep their season alive, Dios Mac contributed 16 pts 5 asts.

Born x Raised vs Fentwood

The 4th and final playoff game of the day was a battle of two heavy-weights as 10th seeded Fentwood Hoops faced off against 6th seeded Born x Raised. Fentwood came into the second round of playoffs after a dominant win over Anthony Hamilton Jr. ‘s Hamilton x Wilson All-Stars while Born x Raised’s 4-2 regular season earned them an automatic bid into the Top 12. Filled with passion, both teams were locked in, determined to make it into the next round of the playoffs, but only one could move on. Born x Raised’s athleticism and key performances from stars proved enough for a 79 – 62 victory. Born x Raised moves on to face 3rd seeded In the Lab. A rematch of week 1, the Born x Raised side which was blown out, has revamped and will be seeking a different outcome in what is sure to be one of the most highly anticipated games of the season.

Ask Born x Raised player-coach-gm hybrid David Garcia, and he’s sure to let you know his team aren’t waiting for next year, the rookie team feels their time is now, and strong roster management throughout the regular season has the squad shaped up to be legitimate championship contenders. Seasoned vet LaQuavius ‘Q’ Cotton was unstoppable and the clear difference maker of the day, finishing with 29 points, and earning Player of the Week Honors for Week 7, his 2nd of the season. Hitting 6 three pointers, disrupting on defense and scoring at will, Q found his 2nd punch in long-time teammate Kwah ‘Lethal’ Gredic, 14 pts, 6 asts, and 7 stls. Gredic, leading the league in assists, will face off against his only rival for Floor General of the Year – The Hezigod.

Rookie squad Fentwood Hoops finish their season in the Top 12, with all-star Maurice Jones contributing 17 pts and 7 rebs and Daytone Jennings returning to the tune of 17 pts, 11 rebs. Though sure to be disappointed by the loss, Fentwood will be pleased with their introductory season to the VBL, bringing a squad of hoopers from the IE to a 4-4 record. The team shone bright in key games, provided highlights and sitdowns, and came to play every time they stepped on the court. Though their season is over, expect Fentwood Hoops to keep making noise up at Elizabeth Davis Park during the offseason and over the years to come in the VBL.

Venice 5 v Taipei Kings

The day concluded with a feature game between the Venice 5, comprised of Elvin ‘Harlem World’ Rodriguez, Nico ‘Mr. CEO’ Ansom, Brandon ‘Bodybag’ Moss, Dame ‘Gods Prodigy’ and Zach Andrews and challengers all the way from the Taiwanese P. League+ – the New Taipei Kings. On a leg of an american tour, the Taipei Kings brought their squad, their fans and their vibes to the beach to take on Venice’s All-Star lineup.

As the sun began to hang low in the sky, it became evident to all that the Taipei Kings were for real. Hordes of fans swarmed both in person to the beach and to our livestream, drawing the question: can this team beat our juggernaut collection of basketball talent? In a friendly game that devolved into a mutual show, the Venice 5 came away with a splashy victory, throwing up trick shots and soaring to the rim throughout the game. In the end, the score didn’t matter, as all in attendance both in Venice and around the world, were treated to a show that transcended location, time zones and language barriers. Much love to the New Taipei Kings and their fans who embraced the competition with open arms. With plans for the Venice 5 to travel on an Asia Tour this winter, we have to ask – run it back at yours next time?