Written by Alex Semerjian and Sydney Imus
Everything you might have missed from VBL’s Week 2 and the opening weekend of the VWL.
In the Lab vs. Surf Club x Fentwood Hoops
Week 2 of the VBL tipped off with a matchup between Team Surf Club x Fentwood Hoops and Team In the Lab. Returning champion Darius Allen made his season debut for In the Lab and put on arguably the performance of the weekend with 31 points, 4 threes, and one monstrous-and-one poster dunk which had the early-morning crowd on their feet. The game was a back and forth affair with Surf Club x Fentwood Hoops moving to 2-0 on the season in a close 79-76 win. Surf Club was led by their three-headed monster once again: Tone Singleton (17 pts 11 reb), Jordan “J Dubie” (17 pts 7 reb), and Daniel Pugh (15 pts 9 reb) who all had standout performances. Tone received his second consecutive player of the game honor to open the season, putting himself in early contention for VBL MVP and establishing himself as one of the league’s top players. In the Lab received significant contributions from Bernard (15 pts, 9 reb) and Dwight (11 pts, 5 ast), who will hope to improve on their team’s 0-2 start to the season. Additionally, Surf Club x Fentwood Hoops got a boost from White Iverson (11 pts, 5 asts), who in his season debut dropped off a smooth between-the-legs dime for the highlight reel.
Timeless vs. Fabletics
Team Timeless and Team Fabletics squared off in the 2nd matchup of the weekend, resulting in a 66-57 win for Timeless. Bentley Green (18 Pts, 5 reb, 4 ast) received player of the game honors for Timeless, and showcased to the league that he is much more than an actor. 2022 Rookie of the Year and Timeless star Elvin “E5” Rodriguez’s (18 pts, 4 reb, 3 ast) poster alley-oop from Pray to Allah had the crowd electrified, putting to speculation if E5 deserves the title for bounciest player in the league. Fabletics came into the matchup with a revamped roster from last weeks embarrassing defeat, and put up a worthy fight. Led by captain Allex Austin (15 pts, 18 reb), Yusuf (12 pts), and Michael (10 pts), Fabletics will hope that more on-court reps will translate into wins in the coming weeks. Buddha Boyd (10 pts, 11 reb) held down the boards for Team Timeless who moved to 2-0 in the young season and have early championship aspirations.
DOMPEN Greenlights vs. Woodies
The most anticipated matchup of the week was between Team DOMPEN Greenlights and Team Woodies. Spectators came into the game expecting high-level basketball, but the game quickly turned into a slugfest which ended in a low-scoring 52-46 win for DOMPEN. Players and coaches on both sides seemed more interested in arguing with each other and the refs than actually playing basketball. For team Woodies, Baby Shaq’s controversial ejection and subsequent re-entry upon a commissioner’s overrule of a 2nd assessed technical was a talking point amongst fans. ’22 Finals MVP Ryan “Hezigod” Carter (15 points) and ’22 Most Improved Player Emmanuel Brown (12 pts) scored enough to squeak DOMPEN to 2-0. Hoopbus was led by Mint Chocolate (15 points), and will be frustrated with back-to-back close losses to open the season. The player of the game honors was awarded to Quan Bailey for outstanding sportsmanship and leadership in a game which sorely needed more of both.
Actively Black vs. New Jersey Sets
Saturday’s final game between Actively Black and New Jersey Sets featured two teams coming off close Week 1 wins. Actively Black took a tight 61-55 win to remain undefeated so far this season, with a VBL Week 2 player of the week performance going to veteran Chris Staples. Chris had 20 points and 4 threes, and continues to showcase his all-around game in addition to his usual fan-favorite dunks. Helping Actively Black to victory was some powerful twin activation from the identical Blake (14 pts, 4 reb) and Blaine (5 pts) and a much needed 7 points and 7 rebounds from Joel aka “John Coffee.” Aaron “AG” Gibson poured in a whopping 22 points and 6 rebounds for New Jersey Sets, placing him among the top 5 scorers early in the season leaderboards. It’s clear “AG” will be a force to be reckoned with this season, though apparently not strong enough to take down Chris Stapes and the so-far unstoppable Actively Black.
Prototype 81 by Sunblock vs. Urban Necessities
Sunday’s first game was an end-to-end blowout between Prototype 81 x Sunblock and Urban Necessities. Prototype 81 blew Urban Necessities away with their offensive firepower, scoring 88 points in a 88-64 win. Prototype was led by player of the game Juice (21 pts, 4 reb, 3 3s, 4 ast) who many regard as the best shooter in the VBL. #1 draft pick Omari Ferguson (24 pts, 5 ast) continues to be a highlight machine for Urban Necessities, and leads the VBL in total points with 51. Pop Champagne (14 pts, 5 reb) and Big Baby (12 pts, 8 reb) had strong showings for Prototype who grabbed their first win of the season. Gyles’ 12 points and Chima’s 11 points were not enough to make the game competitive for Urban Necessities who currently sit last in the VBL standings.
Crenshaw Coffee vs. Hamilton x Wilson
Team Crenshaw Coffee Company and Team Hamilton x Wilson tipped off Sunday’s second VBL game, resulting in a 74-67 win for Team Hamilton. Absent their star players in Anthony Hamilton and Deshaun Highler, Grizzly Moons took over for Team Hamilton following up last week’s coaching performance with an important 21 point player of the game showing. Grizz scored the season’s first 4 pt play, highlighting a silky jumper prowess. Crenshaw Coffee was led by AJ “Chosen One” (21 pts, 6 reb) and Big Shell Bailey (17 pts, 6 reb), who combined to pose a valiant effort which ultimately fell short to Team Hamilton. Other standout performers for Team Hamilton were Dre “Mountain of a Man” (11 pts, 6 reb), and Dommo (10 points), who hope to have similar outputs once Hamilton’s star players return for action.
The Mecca vs. BBall Junkies
VBL Week 2 culminated in a matchup between Team The Mecca and Team Bball Junkies, who both won tightly contested season openers. In his season debut Sambou “Sam” Mardoche (17 pts, 13 reb) dominated the paint for The Mecca in a 63-55 win. The bruising battle in the paint between reigning MVP Zach Hinton (15 pts, 9 reb) and Sambou Mardoche dictated the result of the game, and was representative of old-school smashmouth basketball. AJ Basco (13 pts) seemed to have shifted the momentum for BBall Junkies with his jaw-dropping long range 3 pointer, but The Mecca behind its contributions from Spencer (12 pts, 7 reb) and Jay (10 pts) pulled away in the final minutes to go to 2-0 on the season.