Underrated and Game Changers started the season off right, in a nail biter in their first games of the winter season. There was a brief stretch in which it looked like Underrated was going to win going away, but Game Changers showed their resiliency by storming back into the game. Ultimately it just wasn’t enough as they fell 68-66.
To shed some light on how close a game this was, it was just a five point lead at the half. Neither team could get away from the other, there were some good performances in the half. One of the things to take away from this game was the resurgence of Lex (16 points), he is two years removed from winning the MVP in the summer league. It was clear that he’s on the road to becoming that guy again, he made an impression early in the game. There was nice play from wings on both teams as Tino, Benny, Melo, and Nate all hit some big shots.
The second half was exciting as both teams tried to take control of the game, Underrated started off with a run to push the lead to 44-36. They did so by getting stops in the half court. Then things got rather sloppy for both teams, Underrated was trying to extend the lead while Game Changers wanted to get back into it. After that rough patch, things got good as the teams settled down.
With four minutes left, Game Changers found themselves down by 10 points. It could have went south, but they fought on. Melo came up huge for his team in the second half. He missed the back end of a trip to the charity stripe, but in the scramble for the rebound the ball found him at the top of the arc and he confidently drilled the triple to cut the lead to four. After a stop and another shot from deep, the Game Changers found themselves down just one.
While Melo (23 points) raised his game for the Game Changers, down the stretch is when Manny ( 21 points) came alive and Underrated couldn’t have been happier. The diminutive guard got into the lane and finished amongst traffic to push his team’s lead back up to three. That lead didn’t last long as Nate stepped up and knocked down the biggest shot of the game for the Game Changers, his three pointer locked things up at 66 a piece with 45 seconds left in the contest. Underrated’s ensuing possession was horrible, spacing was bad and an ill advised shot was taken. All the Game Changers had to do was take a good shot and hit it, instead, they would waste their possession as well. Giving the ball back to Underrated.
Coming out of the timeout, there were roughly 15 seconds left. Underrated inbounded the ball to Manny, he let the clock wind down a bit before he made his move. He drove right and his defender kind of slid by him, most likely figuring that if he got Manny to pick up his dribble one of his teammates would rotate over. That never happened, Manny was at the top of the right elbow and calmly rose up and knocked down the game winning shot. It was a display of great poise from the guard, his defender seemed more nervous than him during the possession. With Lex posting up down low, that may have kept his defender from rotating up to contest Manny’s shot. Either way there were just three seconds left on the clock when Manny’s shot went through the net. Game Changers got a clean look at it, but the three point attempt was a bit strong and bounced harmlessly off of the rim.
A great win for Underrated, definitely a fun game to watch due to how tight it was down the stretch.
..#8 for underrated hist a HUGE shot in the lane to push the lead to 3…Game changers getting and hitting open triples, #5’s triple ties the game at 66 with 45 seconds left…Game changers waste a possession as Lex gets out to contest it and #8 Manny with the what appears to be the game winning shot…gets tot he right elbow and drained the pull up J…3 seconds left and Underrated with a 3 point lead