LONG ISLAND CITY, NY - Sometimes you get a really interesting matchup during divisional play of the iS8/Nike Spring Classic, while other times you get a mismatch.
The game between the Brooklyn Ballers and Playaz Club Seniors would qualify as the former.
Both teams were undefeated coming into the matchup Sunday afternoon at Variety Boys & Girls Club. The game was close enough that it took an extra four minutes to determine the winner. In this case it was the Playaz who were able to outlast the Brooklyn Ballers, making all 12 of their free throws to earn an 83-79 victory.
The Ballers were ahead 9-1 early in the game. The Playaz started extremely slow, but were able to pick up the pace as the game went into the second quarter. They dominated the game in the period behind Myles Davis and Chris Jones, who scored 10 and 9 points respectively. The duo paced the Playaz to a 42-25 lead at the half.
It looked like it was going to be a runaway win. However, one of the reasons that the Playaz had such a commanding lead was because Brooklyn Ballers point guard Malik Gill had to sit the majority of the first half with foul trouble. With Gill back on the court the Ballers were able to mount a big time comeback spearheaded by Gill who scored 14 points in the quarter. A furious 22-3 run to start the third period was capped when Gill hit a three to put the Ballers ahead, 47-45. The buzzer sounded with the game deadlocked at 50 going into the final period.
The fourth quarter was full of action. The Playaz scored the first 7 points of the final period, but the Ballers were able to answer that to eventually take a 62-60 lead with less than two minutes left in regulation time. Eventually, time ran out with the score knotted at 67.
Gill, who scored all but two of his game high 29 points in the second half, started the extra session with a stop and pop three from the top of the key. That was answered quickly on the next possession when Jones went down the middle of the lane and finished with a two handed dunk. After an empty possession by the Ballers, Jones was fouled and made two free throws to give Playaz the lead for good. The Playaz scored 6 more points before the Ballers scored again to make it 77-71. It was just a matter of them hitting their free throws and they gave the Ballers their only loss in division play.
The Xavier bound Davis led the Playaz with a team high 25 points, including 3 long range shots from behind the arc. Jones, on his way to Pittsburgh, added 21 points for the winning team. Chaz Watler scored 13 while Omari Manhertz added 11 for the Brooklyn Ballers.