Week 5 Return of the Ballout: Results and Recap
By John Krolik, @krolikjohn July 18, 2022
Well, that was a long and exciting day of FIREBALL3, with all six games this week being played on Sunday. Let’s see what we learned during the Return of the Ballout:
GAME 1: TRILOGY DEFEATS TRI STATE, 51-46
This game was essentially played in the Twilight Zone. When Trilogy played the Aliens in Week 4, Isaiah Briscoe’s shooting struggles continued as he shot 3-13 from the floor, 0-4 from three-point range, and 2-9 from the free throw line. I even pointed it out as a major concern for the defending Champions.
What did Briscoe do against Tri State? He shot 9-16 from the field, 4-7 from 3-point range, and made all three of the free throws he took. Earl Clark, who came into the game leading the BIG3 in three-point percentage, went 0-5 from three.
Meanwhile, Tri-State, who have been the best perimeter shooting team in the league all season, went 2-14 from three point range and missed all three of the shots they took from the four-point circles.
One thing that remained consistent is that Trilogy are still the league’s comeback kings. In their Week 3 game against Ghost Ballers, they went into the half trailing 25-12. They made a 20-2 run in the second half, and went on to win the game.
In their game against Tri State, Trilogy went into the half trailing 26-16, and at one point in the second half they trailed 42-27. Naturally, they surged back, and the game-winner came on a wide open Amir Johnson layup under the basket that DaJuan Summers goaltended out of desperation.
FIREWATCH: Tri State Coach Julius Erving challenged a foul by DaJuan Summers on David Hawkins. Hawkins missed a pull-up jumper, NO BASKET.
2022 Records: Trilogy 3-2, Tri State 3-2
GAME 2: ALIENS DEFEAT BALL HOGS, 50-37
There’s really one major story in this game, and it’s not a happy one. With the Ball Hogs leading 29-24, Team Captain Leandro Barbosa went to the bench with a lower leg injury. Hopefully it’s not too severe, but initial reports were not promising.
After Barbosa came out of the game, the Ball Hogs understandably looked deflated, and the Aliens closed the game out on a 26-8 run.
Anyways, other things did happen. Deshawn Stephens continued to establish himself as perhaps the most important player on the Aliens, and they played a more straight-up version of FIREBALL3 than the free-flowing style they showed in the first few weeks.
There was one really fun “classic Aliens” play. With the Ball Hogs leading 23-21, the Aliens ran a set sideline out-of-bounds play where Adam Drexler inbounded to Tomislav Ivosev up top. Dusan Bulut came up like he was going to set a UCLA screen for Drexler to get a layup opportunity, but it was a feint. Jodie Meeks, who was guarding Bulut, bit on the fake, and dropped into the lane for a switch to prevent Drexler from having the paint to himself.
Barbosa, who was guarding Drexler and could see the screen was a fake, stayed on Drexler and ran into the paint himself. Once Barbosa realized what was going on, he was in no-mans land and Bulut got the ball from Ivosev for a wide-open three, which he knocked down.
Here’s the cherry on top. During a time-out in the Power vs. Bivouac game, you could hear Nancy Lieberman instruct her team to “run Aliens,” which, sure enough, involved TJ Cline faking a UCLA screen. Bivouac didn’t bite on the action the way the Ball Hogs did, but it’s delightful to see how the Aliens’ style of basketball is having an impact on the rest of the league.
Here’s the full sequence, with a nice little bonus of Coach Lieberman telling Glen Rice Jr. to tuck his shirt in.
FIREWATCH: Ball Hogs Coach Rick Barry challenged a foul by Barbosa on Karlis Lasmanis. Lasmanis misses a pull-up, NO BASKET.
Bulut/Stephens lob watch: We got four lobs from Bulut to Stephens in Week 5, and while none of them resulted in a direct alley-oop, all of them resulted in baskets. Stephens went up and caught the first lob and then came down before laying it in. On the second lob, both defenders were on Bulut, leaving Stephens all alone in the paint for an easy slam. On the third lob, Stephens again caught it, landed, and then went back up for a layup. The fourth lob went over Stephens’ head, but he managed to track down the loose ball and drive to the hoop for an and-1.
2022 Records: Aliens 4-1, Ball Hogs 1-4
GAME 3: 3’s COMPANY DEFEAT GHOST BALLERS, 50-36
This is not what I was expecting. The Ghost Ballers came into this game looking like a team just a tweak or two away from being a championship contender. Meanwhile, 3’s Company had been having a miserable time of things, and their offense had mostly consisted of the team watching Michael Beasley take contested shots.
So naturally, it was a surprise to see 3’s Company moving the ball like the Showtime Lakers (which Coach Michael Cooper was a member of) and cutting through the Ghost Ballers, who couldn’t get anything going themselves, like a hot knife through butter.
3’s Company was constantly moving without the ball and making the extra pass, and beat the Ghost Ballers backdoor for easy layups over and over again. Meanwhile, the Ghost Ballers were either settling for long jumpers or giving 3’s Company easy layups on turnovers. Chris Johnson went 2-9 from the field and 2-7 from downtown, meaning the 6’11 Johnson didn’t make a single basket from inside the arc all game. At halftime, the score was 25-9 3’s Company, who ended the half shooting 92% from the floor. They went 11-12 from the floor!
3’s Company pushed the score to 37-14 in the second half – at that point, the Ghost Ballers had made a grand total of two shots from outside the paint. Jermaine Taylor came in for the Ghost Ballers with a very hot hand (he scored 21 points on 8-13 shooting from the field and 5-8 from beyond the arc), which is the only thing that kept the final score respectable – until that happened, this was probably the most one-sided game of the season. The game-winner came when Mario Chalmers flipped in a Jermaine Taylor airball for a layup.
FIREWATCH: No Fire was Brought.
2022 Records: 3’s Company 2-3, Ghost Ballers 2-3
GAME 4: KILLER 3’S DEFEAT ENEMIES, 51-35
Another one-sided affair. In fact, the Killer 3’s won by even more than 3’s Company did. Coach Charles Oakley and Captain Frank Nitty’s team played the entire game with their hair on fire, constantly putting pressure on the Enemies and using aggressive forays to the rim to create either layups or open shots. They also converted the looks they got, and Donte Greene and Dominique Johnson combined to go 6-12 from three-point range.
Meanwhile, the Enemies seemed content to rely on the outside shot-making of Nick Young, who finished with a respectable 17 points on nine shots, or let big man Isaiah Austin go to work in isolation. He finished with a less than ideal 10 points on 4-13 shooting from the field. Outside of Young, nobody made a shot from outside the arc, and the team finished 3-13 from three-point range. They also finished the game with two total assists. Honestly, the Killer 3’s almost literally ran through the Enemies in this one. The game ended with Dominique Johnson hitting a wide-open three, which was wide-open because Nick Young was busy arguing with a referee about a foul on the Enemies’ previous possession.
FIREWATCH: Acting Player/Coach Nick Young challenged a foul by himself on Franklin “Frank Nitty” Session. Session made a nice spin move and laid it in, BASKET GOOD.
2022 Records: Killer 3’s 3-2, Enemies 2-3
GAME 5: 3 HEADED MONSTERS DEFEAT TRIPLETS, 50-44
The Triplets were without Joe Johnson for this game, so Coach Lisa Leslie’s game plan revolved around the sharpshooting Pargo brothers running pick-and-roll action with Ryan Hollins.
Coach Leslie seems to have figured out how to use Hollins. Hollins didn’t play 10 years in the NBA because of his ballhandling, outside shot, or post moves. He knew where to be on both ends of the court, and he could and can get very far above the floor very quickly, which makes him quite effective when it comes to dunking and blocking. He finished with a team-high 14 points, and shot 6-7 from the field.
This game was ultimately decided by two things. First of all, Jeremy Pargo was cold from deep, missing all five of his shots, while Quincy Miller was scorching hot. Miller made all five of the threes he took against the Triplets, and made sure to let them know about it.
The second factor was the wild final sequence, which you’ll only find in FIREBALL3. Late in the game, the Triplets had a 42-38 lead. Kevin Murphy then pulled up from the four-point circle to tie the game. On 3HM’s next possession, the ageless Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf nailed a pull-up to give 3HM a 44-42 lead. Jannero Pargo then tied it at 44 on a drive. On 3HM’s next possession, Murphy drew an off-ball foul and hit the free throw. Since his team was in the bonus, they retained possession. Murphy then ended the game with a side-step four-pointer.
For those of you keeping score, down the final stretch of the game Kevin Murphy scored 10 points on two possessions. That’s how quickly things can happen in FIREBALL3. You gotta love this league.
FIREWATCH: Reggie Theus challenged a foul by Quincy Miller on Ryan Hollins. In what I would say is the single funniest play of the season thus far, Hollins straight-up just ran straight into Miller’s chest and threw up a wild shot. Words honestly don’t do it justice.
2022 Records: 3 Headed Monsters 4-1, Triplets 2-3
GAME 6: BIVOUAC DEFEATS POWER, 50-43
This one got chippy quickly. Power got off to a hot start when Captain Cuttino Mobley hit three of his first four threes, but after that they had trouble getting any consistent offense going despite moving the ball well. They finished the game with 12 of their 16 field goals coming off of assists, with Royce White being responsible for 9 of those assists.
Even still, Power just couldn’t seem to get their normal actions going. When Coach Nancy Lieberman’s team has struggled offensively this season, it’s generally been because of the team missing open shots. In this game, they had trouble getting the looks they wanted.
As I said, it was a chippy game with a lot of trash-talking coming from both sides, and Bivouac played some truly pissed-off basketball. Gerald Green finished just 6-19 from the floor, but he never stopped going and finished with a game-high 20 points. The Houston native played an edge we don’t often see out of Green, who tends to make the game look easy because of his immense talent.
The game ended when Corey Brewer hit a pull-up jumper over TJ Cline, giving Bivouac their first back-to-back wins in franchise history.
FIREWATCH: Coach Nancy Lieberman challenged an offensive foul by TJ Cline on Corey Brewer. (Bivouac were in the bonus, so under FIREBALL3 rules they would have gotten a free throw if Lieberman didn’t challenge.) Brewer drove, made a nice spin move, and laid it in. BASKET GOOD.
With Power trailing 41-48, Gary Payton challenged a foul by Garlon Green on Glen Rice Jr., who was taking a three-point shot. Rather than give Rice a “three-throw,” he decided to Bring the Fire. Rice was able to get close to the basket and get a good look, but he missed the bunny. If he’d made it, it would have counted for three points and Power would have gotten the ball back with the score at 48-44, so this was a big Bring the Fire challenge.
2022 Records: Bivouac 2-3, Power 2-3