Entering Week 13, the Mambas were hoping to win 1 more and obtain that illustrious Dynasty status. After not winning 1 championship all year, what a story it would be that the Mambas would go on to Dynasty beginning during Kobe Week in Week 11. The Mambas had probably one of the biggest targets on their backs entering this week, as GUT point standings were finally taking shape, and with only a handful of weeks left to play, this could cement 4 guys spot in the all-star game and possibly eliminate others. With 4 other teams ready to dethrone the men in black, week 13 turned very physical with bodies (and elbows) flying all over the place. The intensity was turned up a notch as everyone was willing to leave everything they had on the court. With so much at stake, let’s get to the action.
No surprise here; all 4 Mambas were essentially the first guys to respond that they were in this week, officially activating the Dynasty team for 1 last run. This team had it all from the time it was drafted back in week 11, and with 3 weeks of playing together, it further allowed the guys to gel with each other. Archie has decided to go into Mamba mode in the last few weeks, while Siad has re-developed his touch he assumed he lost at the beginning of the season. Meanwhile, Shahzad has turned into one of the more valuable pieces of this Dynasty team, seemingly always coming out of nowhere to get the big rebound or make a big bucket. Finally, Arif has evolved into one of the better big men in the league, and one of the better leaders any team has. Rumors have persisted all year, but confirmed this past weekend, that Arif creates an exclusive WhatsApp group for all the teams he’s on, to discuss strategy, game plan and diet among other things. Joke all we want, but the man wins and maybe his technique works. The Mambas started the week off a bit slow, losing to the Direwolves, but regrouped and went on a 3-0-1 run with 1 game left. The final game of the night matched them against the Legends. A win and they would be given the opportunity to defend their championship, while a loss could eliminate them. With Dynasty status on the line, things got physical, as the Legends did everything, they could to eliminate the Mambas. Down 1 with 1-minute left, the Mambas turned to their leader and Archie hit a dagger 3 to put the Mambas up for good and send them to the finals.
Hamid returned as Captain this week and looked to lead the boys in blue to the finals and a championship. With top sub player Saleem available to play, it was a no brainer for Hamid and quickly snagged the young buck. Rounding out the rest of the Legends this week were sharpshooters Riyad & Hummaad. Talentwise, this team lacked none of it. The issue that they would face is they all play the same game and are all essentially the same size. With 4 pure shooters and no big men on the team, the Legends would be forced to use their speed and defensive skills to contain their bigger opponents, while hoping their shots would fall as they would lack the rebounding necessary to win. Things did not start well for the Legends, as a big time 3 by Jav helped the Soldiers beat the Legends in their opening game, while the Ballers all but manhandled the Legends in game 2. Forced to make adjustments, the Legends came together and started hustling more and were able to mercy the Direwolves 7-0 and earn a hard-fought tie against the defending champ Mambas. Unfortunately, the gas ran out and in a return match against the Ballers, the Legends were manhandled again and with the loss, eliminated them from finals contention this week. If you’re not going to win, the next best thing is to play spoiler and the Legends had the opportunity in their last game to eliminate those pesky Mambas. A hard-fought game throughout (ask Riyad; he was elbowed in the head then in the mouth on 2 separate plays), the Legends could not play spoiler and dropped their last game on the night.
On paper, this team headed into Week 13 as the favorite to dethrone the Mambas. With Umar back in GBBL form after a lengthy vacation, he was ready to lead his team to the championship. He quickly formed a fearsome duo with big men Baseer & Adil M. Baseer has morphed into one of the best players in GBBL, while Adil has quickly cemented his place as probably the best true big man in GBBL this year. Rounding out the team, Umar looked to blood, and was able to snag his big bro Fahad. Fahad has been hitting some big shots lately, and this week would be no different, as he has been practicing his step back 3 that is working. With 2 wins and 1 tie in their first 3 games, the Ballers were faced against the Mambas in game 4, which would be the real test on how this team would be on the night. Unfortunately, losing to the Mambas 7-2 derailed some of their momentum, but they could take solace in knowing that they loss on their 4th straight game without a break, and attributed it to fatigue. With a quick bye game and time to recuperate, the boys in white quickly returned to form and won their last 2 games on the night, punching their ticket to the finals with a 4-1-1 record. As good as the record was, that 1 loss was to the Mambas, the team they would face in the finals. With a break prior to the finals, the Ballers hoped that the finals would be reversed from their last meeting, as the Mambas were the ones forced to play in the round robin finale and would not get a chance to break before tip off began.
The Soldiers were a team that many underestimated coming into the week. With Adeel & Jav doing all the shooting and creating, could captain Tabish hold down the fort alone down low in the post? Would Sood begin to burn all those players that double others and leave him open? Entering game 1, things did not start off right as the Soldiers were forced to play 3 on 3 without Sood. A heartbreaking 1-point loss was not how they wanted to start the week, but they knew reinforcement was on the way. Right before game 2, Sood joined his comrades in red (btw, why does Sood never wear a GBBL shirt?) and they were off to the races. In game 2, Tabish punished the Legends inside, while Jav was crossing over and hitting step back 3’s to get the Soldiers their first win of the night. Things looked up for the boys in red, but something happened, and they could not click as a team for the rest of the night. Dropping their remaining 4 games and being outscored 27-6 ensured they were not making the championship round this week. With so much talent on this team, and with 4 guys who have played together often in the past 2 years, the record for this team is a headscratcher. 2 7-0 mercies followed by a 7-1 loss is not a reflection of these boys, but the hunger and drive weren’t there this week. The team seemed frustrated (both at their own play and with each other) which further proves, talent alone doesn’t always translate to wins.
Captain Hamza looked to lead the Wolves to the championship this week, and quickly selected MVP candidate Zahid with his 1st pick. A Zahid and Hamza combo on paper is as deadly as any combo this league could put together. Zahid is a lights out shooter who understands the game, while Hamza is a brick wall and can’t be moved if he so chooses to. Hamza then went with an all-around player in Neal and the newest official member of GBBL, Mo “Mamba” Kala with his last 2 picks. Mo has really developed into a quality ball player since his debut in week 7, and has seen his cardio along with his shot, get better with each passing week. The Wolves started off the week with a 6-3 beatdown of the defending champs followed by a 5-5 tie with the Ballers. Feeling good about their chances, they came out for game 3 after a bye, and were as sluggish as ever. The Wolves dropped their game against the Legends 7-0, and could that be the game that comes back to bite them in the you know where later? Needing wins fast, the Wolves were gifted 2 games against the Soldiers in which they won both on a combined score of 14-1. Needing 1 last win, the boys in grey were matched against the Mambas again, but this time, the Mambas forced a tie which would leave the Wolves with a 3-2-1 record on the night. Needing the Mambas to lose in the final round robin game against the Legends, they turned into cheerleaders, cheering on the Legends, hoping for a win. Unfortunately, that win did not come, and the Wolves were forced back to the sidelines for the rest of the night.
WEEK 13 FINALS – Ballers vs Mambas
The finals pitted the Ballers attempting to break the Mambas Dynasty attempt and with so many GUT points on the line, most of the crowd leftover were all rooting for the upset. Unfortunately for everyone cheering for the Ballers, captain Archie made sure that they were not only disappointed, but also flipped them and got everyone to cheer for the Mambas and specifically, for him. It was January 22, 2006 and the Black Mamba went OFF on our beloved Raptors, to the tune of 81 points. Representing the Mambas on this week and wearing Kobe’s 8, Archie produced his own version (and GBBL’s version) of Kobe’s 81-point night. The finals started off with the Mambas (specifically Archie), hitting 3, after 3, after 3, after 3. The man was on FIRE and scored 9 of his teams first 11 points and by the end of the night, those who remained in attendance, were in awe as to would he ever miss on this night? For the few times he did miss, Arif, Siad & Shahzad cleaned everything up (Shahzad even got his glassed punched out by accident and was seen bleeding; IA he’s doing better as he said it was only a scratch). Meanwhile, the Ballers were nowhere to be found. They came into the finals looking sluggish and the fire & desire wasn’t on full display. To be fair to them, Archie came out in the 2nd half and kept hitting shot after shot after shot. He finished the night scoring 87% of his teams’ points, and a finals record of 13 points (he also tied Zahid with a finals record of 5 3-pointers). To put this in perspective, this was the largest margin of victory in any finals this year (12 points), and Archie himself outscored 21 of the 24 teams that have played in the finals this year (WTH!!!). This was a performance for the ages and will be remembered for a long time.
And with that, we have our 2nd Dynasty team of the year. Kudos to the boys in black for a job well done, as none of their wins (except this finals win) came easy. With 2 teams completing the Dynasty this season, we look back to see if there were any common denominators, and confirm, Arif has now been part of both Dynasty teams. Additionally, Arif now leads the league in GUT point standings and is all but a lock to be selected as an All-Star this year (he also leads the league in finals appearances and overall championships with 6). Not to be outdone, his teammates, now are all in the top 6 in GUT point standings for the year. With only 5 weeks left to play, those at the top are pulling away from the pack, while those in the bottom 5 GUT standings are clinging on to dear life. Still lots of ball left to play and enough time for a new team to Dynasty, week 14 will now have 5 new captains and 5 new teams. Until next week, congrats to the Mambas!!!