#1 World Century Marketing (4-1) – First round bye
Another season, another dominating exhibition by World Century Marketing. This time, however, the defending champions faced some of the toughest competition ever in SSL history.
If the WingHin Autohaus Griffin matchup was anything to go by, they know they have a tough road to the finals. Griffin defeated WCM in the regular season and even made Dan Eves look human, holding him to a season low 28 points. Though Griffin won the matchup, WCM took #1 on scoring differential and used their dominance throughout the season to earn the top spot and earn a bye in the first round.
The team almost swept the individual statistical categories with the Gold Division’s leaders in points (Dan Eves 40.5ppg), assists (Addy Tung 8.3 apg), rebounds (Dan Eves 23.5 rpg), blocks (Shoghi Gan 1.8 bpg). Besides their core, their bench stepped up as well helping to tally up a convincing 122 point scoring differential throughout the season.
If they are looking for yet another championship, the path will not be a stroll in the park with nearly every team in Gold being a potential threat. Their playoffs start when they face the winner of Farcochem and AeroBulls on May 20th. Let’s see if they can claim back to back championships.
#2 WingHin Autohaus Griffin (4-1) – First round bye
In any league, when you have size, strength, skill and experience you will be a force to be reckoned with. This new team came in with a core group of talent including Chuk Wai Hong and Foong Min Joe not to mention last season’s scoring champion Paul “The Apostle” Etim and reigning Defensive Player of the league David Pagbe. Their dominance on both sides of the court is coupled by size and strength at almost every position.
In what was likely the best match of the regular season, WingHin Autohaus Griffin defeated reigning champions WCM, holding them to 34% shooting and 10% from behind the arc. Undersized David Pagbe (Gold Division steals leader with 5.3 per game) continues to dominate the rebounds and shut down larger opponents with his strength and heart that fires up the WingHin Autohaus Griffin engine.
Losing out narrowly on the #1 seed by scoring margin, Griffin will face the winner of the KL Rhinos and JR Kriegers, both of whom they beat by double digits. Going into the playoffs, Griffin have seemingly no weaknesses though the somewhat lacklustre performance in their final regular season loss against FarmcoChem may be a look at what they could be if they lose focus. Though they move the ball well and dominate on the inside, they will need the help of some more consistent outside shooting if they hope to become first time SSL champions. We’ll see if they have the drive to get across the finish line.
4:15PM COURT 1
FarcoChem #3 vs AeroBulls #6
#3 FarcoChem (3-2)
Coming into the season this club was known from other tournaments around the country and always fielding an awesome roster. Their first foray into SSL 6 was no different with current Agong Cup, state and ex national and Dragons’ players. With experienced coaching at the helm and talent at every position, they are difficult matchup on both sides of the court. FarcoChem’s one weakness may be getting the right roster for game day as week to week they have had changes in the lineup. None of the team’s players were in the top 5 major statistical categories due to this (minimum 4 games played to qualify) although Chin Teck Wei’s efficient 16.8ppg on 55% shooting has been a consistent bright spot. On the flip side, the team’s evenly distributed play could prove to be the key to their success in the playoffs. FarcoChem are favourites to upset late in the playoffs though calling it an upset would be an overstatement.
#6 AeroBulls (0-5)
One thing for sure you can’t take away from the AeroBulls is their passion. They had a rough inaugural campaign in the League going 0-5 and getting outplayed in the Gold Division. That said, they showed up each week ready to go to battle. Point guard Kerfalla Daff finished in the top 3 in assists with 3.4 dimes per game while big man Tony was the third overall rebounder with 13 boards a contest. However, the Aerobulls will need a miracle and to play like a stampede of bulls come game day for a chance to advance.
4:15PM COURT 2
KL Rhinos #4 vs JR Kriegers #5
#4 KL Rhinos (3-2)
Followers of SSL will know the KL Rhinos name and have come to expect quality controlled basketball with players flying up and down the court. At times this season, however, the team looked to be going through an identity crisis. Their 66 points a game is the lowest output in their history. The worst showing came in the Week 2 loss against Griffin where they logged in 38 turnovers and only 6 assists as a team. They pulled together the following week and made a statement in Week 3 against the JR Kriegers, their first round opponents.
The good news for the Rhinos is they seem to have pulled together just in time while the Kriegers continue to struggle. Ahmed Dalibi and Rowan Pearce tied for 2nd overall in assists at 3.4 a game while Rowan continues his all-time steals legacy finishing second this season with 4.2 picks a game. Another bright spot for the team has been Tanko Yusuf Abba who finished fourth overall in blocks. For the KL Rhinos to hoist the trophy once again they will need to unite together and play Rhinos basketball. A strong playoff performance by leading scorer and rebounder Adeola D’Brown will also be key to the Rhinos championship run.
#5 JR Kriegers (1-4)
The surprise story of the Gold Division may the rough run by the usually infallible JR Kriegers. The addition of a handful of new players along with the increased level of competition equated to 1-4 record and questions as to how they will fare in the playoffs. Their top heavy play resulted in a sub 30fg% and a measly 8.6 assists per game as a team on the season. Newcomer Yannick Jordan (25.3ppg) and reigning MVP Ben (19.3ppg) finished second and third in scoring in the Gold Division and remain the key to their success. Add to this quality production from Fong Yen Yee (15.5ppg/5.5rpg) and Victor (9.8ppg/11.8rpg), the Kriegers have the size and skill to defeat any team in their path. We’ll see come game day if they can come together in time to salvage their season.