IBL Playoffs: July 3-5
The IBL Playoffs are fast approaching and the teams are pumped up to finish out the season strong. The regular season continues this weekend, ending quickly on Monday July 1st before the postseason hits July 3-5th at Eastmoreland Courts hosted by the Portland Chinooks.
Once again the Slam have secured the top spot in the standings with two wins this past week. Longstanding, paramount players for the Slam, 6'5" G Jacob Stevenson and 6'5 C Blake Poole have shown they have the skills to win in the playoffs, looking for their second titile in a row, as they were apart of the Bellingham Slam last year that became the 2012 Champions. 6'5" G Jacob Stevenson has continued to make a strong case to be the IBL's Defensive Player of the Year with a season-high eight steals and is currently the All Time Leading Scorer. The winner of the play in game on July 3rd between the (5) Nippon Tornadoes and the (4) Salem Sabres will take on the Slam at the second IBL Final Four game July 4th at 5:00pm.
The (4) Salem Sabres and the (5) Tornadoes will meet for a play in game on July 3rd to see who will take the final spot in the IBL Final Four. As this is the first year that Japan has had a full season, it has been good, positive competition as they develop their game and competition and compete in the IBL. As a newcomer and taking on the Salem market, the Sabres quickly became a competitive team with leading players 6'8" F Daniel Deane and newcomer 6'7" C Joe Burton of Oregon State University who is the IBL’s leading rebounder with an average of 15.2. The Sabres have made a name for themselves in the IBL and are a team to watch for in the 2014 season as they continue to make great progress.
It will be another ‘Battle of the Bridges’ as the (3) Chinooks will play the (2) Vancouver Volcanoes on July 4th in the early game at 2:30pm which will determine who will battle for the Championship title on July 5th. These two teams are locked in for another meeting where the Volcanoes have taken two wins out of the three meetings, but final standings decided after the regular season. "Portland always presents a matchup problem with their size and ability to shoot the ball on the perimeter. Most of their players can play multiple positions so it's difficult to stay with one defensive scheme for very long. These two rosters know each other very well, it's turned into a bit of a rivalry with the players," Head Coach of the Vancouver Volcanoes Joe Navarro shared in the beginning of the 2013 season as they hosted their first game facing the Chinooks.
The Volcanoes know that this game is a part of their challenge to win a Championship this season. One member of the Volcanoes, a 2012 Champion with the Slam, wants the trophy this year now for his Volcanoes. “We want to win the championship, and we have all the tools to do it, it depends on how well we can gel together. I feel like we are improving every game feel and hopefully we can peak at right time. In winning the 2012 championship I learned sharing the ball is important to win the title, to get a total team effort you don't play to score, you play the same way all the time, as a team," 6'4" F Paul Hafford now of the Vancouver Volcanoes suggested.
Lead by 6’9F Jared Cunningham the Portland Chinooks like their chances in the post-season and with the past two titles won by the host team, hold home court advantage over the competition. "My goal this season is to win the championship. If we're winning, and have a shot at the title, my play will show itself naturally. I want to avenge what happened last season and that's most important." Cunningham explained when talking with the Ridiculous Upside’s Gino Pilato in a recent interview. "I think the competition here is tremendous. Players here can do many of the things that players in all the major professional leagues can do." Cunningham added.
With the playoffs approaching quickly, the games are only getting more intense and the teams are ready to win the title. Get to Eastmoreland Courts in Portland next week on July 3rd, 4th and 5th and see what the excitement is all about as you watch your favorite teams in the 2013 IBL Playoffs! GET IN THE GAME!
Blake Poole, IBL Player of the Week Presented by Phiten
Averaging 16rpg and 27ppg in two contests this past week of IBL Hoops action, Poole stands out again this season to be named POTW. He is the second Slam player to earn the IBL’s Player of the Week honors after guard Jacob Stevenson picked up the award following the first week of the season.
Last Friday, 6’5” C Blake Poole scored 22 points and picked up a game-high 16 rebounds as the Slam trounced their rivals at home, the Vancouver Volcanoes, 126-104. The win helped the Slam create some separation in the IBL standings between them and second-place Vancouver, and was also the team’s 20th consecutive home win, which set a new franchise record for the Slam
After a quick turnaround, Poole and the Slam were back in action Saturday on the road in California, facing the East Bay Pit Bulls. Poole contributed heavily for the second straight night, posting game-highs in both points and rebounds with 32 and 16, respectively. He highlighted the Slam’s 111-83 win with an all-around strong performance that also included six assists, four steals and a pair of blocked shots.
The road win on Saturday pushed the Slam’s record to 14-2 and assured them of the top seed in the IBL playoffs, which begin next week in Portland. This will be the third consecutive season in which Bellingham will finish the regular season with the league’s best record.
Poole, in his third season in the IBL after graduating from Saint Martin’s University, is enjoying another year among the league’s statistical leaders, after time overseas again in Germany Pro-B. With two games remaining in the regular season, Poole is averaging 19.4 points and 12.2 rebounds per game, ranking him eleventh and third, respectively. He also finds himself in the top ten in steals, picking up nearly two per game.
Poole will be back in action on June 29 as the Slam host the Salem Sabres in their final home game of the season, with a 7 p.m. tip-off scheduled for Whatcom Pavilion. Fans who can’t attend the game can watch a live video stream at www.IBLTVcom.
Written by Kip Leonetti, Bellingham Slam
Game Recaps and Final Court Action for the regular season
Chinooks vs Tornadoes
The Japan Tornadoes and The Portland Chinooks were matched up for a game again on Tuesday. The Chinooks immediately took the lead in the first quarter scoring 42 points, while the Tornadoes held on scoring 25. Top scorer for the Chinooks was 6'9" F Jared Cunningham with 25 points. Japan Tornadoes 6'5" F Jordan Highland scored 24 points for the team. The Tornadoes put up a good fight, but fell to the Chinooks, 142-93.
Tornadoes vs Reign
The Olympia Reign played their final game of the IBL season against the Nippon Tornadoes on Thursday, June 20th. The Tornadoes took a fast break and started the first quarter scoring 31 points and taking a lead over the Reign. The Reign later came back in the 4th quarter as top scorer 6’4” G Mike Ward had 37 points. Last week’s POTW, 6'4 G Marcus Bradford had 32 points as the leading scorer for the Tornadoes. It was a close game between these teams, but the Reign took the win, 128-115. Along with their final win, the Reign are continuing to look for a new partner as their fans are wanting them to play more games. The Olympia Reign already have established a fan base in five IBL seasons and they are wanting more! 6'4 G Mike Ward a found himself excited that the Reign will be fully back next season. “I have to take advantage of all opportunities that come my way and play basketball at a highest level and look forward to the Olympia Reign being back next season!” Mike Ward shared.
Chinooks vs Sabres
The Portland Chinooks took on the Salem Sabres on Thursday. There was a lot on the line as the Chinooks hosted the Sabres at Eastmoreland Courts as this was the Chinooks opportunity to secure 3rd place and win the series over the Sabres. Salem had the edge early before Portland came back to mount a 27-19 advantage after the first quarter.
6'9 F Jared Cunningham started the 3rd quarter, hitting four of his five 3-pointers early on and had 22 points. The Sabres were led by 6'7 C Joe Burton's season-high 25 points along with 6'8 F Daniel Deane who had a double-double 22 points and 18 rebounds. The Sabres put up a good fight, but the Chinooks took the win with the final score of 110-103.
Catch the Sabres and the Chinooks close out the IBL season at Eastmoreland on July 1st as well as the Sabres home game on Friday for the international competition as the Nippon Tornadoes bring their Japanese style of basketball to Chemeketa for the last time this season.
Friday On the Court
Slam vs Volcanoes
The two biggest rivals in the IBL, the Bellingham Slam and the Vancouver Volcanoes had a show down at Whatcom Pavillion on Friday. This game was the determining factor in who would have a higher ranking for the season as well as show what the game might look like at Playoffs. 6'6 F Chehales Tapscott scored 22 points and had 13 rebounds for Vancouver, and 6'4 G Mike Ward also scored 22 points, but it wasn’t nearly enough against Bellingham’s deeper roster. 6'4 G Jacob Stevenson had 30 points for the Slam, leading six Slam players in double figures. The Slam defeated the Volcanoes, 126-104.
Pit Bulls vs Slam
Having just arrived in the Bay Area early in the afternoon, the Slam found themselves lacking energy as the East Bay Pit Bulls took a quick lead in their game at Las Positas College on Saturday. The Pit Bulls took a fast break as they jumped out to a 9-2 lead. But the Slam continued to dominate in the second half, as 6'5" C Blake Poole finished the game with a high of 32 points and 15 rebounds. 6'4" G Jacob Stevenson also contributed 18 points and became the IBL’s Defensive Player of the Year with a season-high 8 steals. East Bay’s top scorer 6'7" F Joston Thomas finished the game with the a triple-double of 21 points, 14 rebounds and 10 turnovers. Both teams were visibly fatigued by the fourth quarter, but the Slam pulled through with the victory of 111-83 against the Pit Bulls.
The East Bay Pit Bulls will play their final home game this weekend on Saturday against the Vancouver Volcanoes at Las Positas College.
Sunday Game Time
Flight vs Volcanoes
The Vancouver Volcanoes took on the Seattle Flight in a close game on Sunday at Pierce College in Lakewood, Washington. The Flight had a 24-19 lead after the first quarter and the Volcanoes knew they had to step up their game. Vancouver closed the gap at halftime to 47-43 but struggled with shooting. The game became a back and forth struggle and became a very close game. Vancouver was led by 6'2 G Andre Murray with 23 points, and 6'6" F Chehales Tapscott turned in a double-double with 15 points and 16 rebounds, his sixteenth in a row in as many games. Seattle Flight’s 5'11" G Jerry Petty led all scorers with 30 points. Some of the Flight players had already been apart of a three game tournament that day in the local area and later ran out of gas in the fourth quarter as Vancouver took the win, 106-100.
Next action for the Volcanoes is this weekend on Saturday and Sunday against the East Bay Pit Bulls and the Japan Nippon Tornadoes. Will we see 6’6 F Chehales Tapscott the 2012 IBL Rookie of the Year tie the record for most double doubles in a row in a season. Also catch up with the Vancouver Volcanoes for their Fan Appreciation night on Sunday from 3-5pm before their last game against the Japan Nippon Tornadoes. See more on ibl.com for details!
Minor League work pays off for Players, Coaches and Officials in the IBL
From Tim Hardaway to Dennis Rodman and Shawn Kemp, over 25 former NBA players have been a part of the IBL over nine years, but what about those who want to keep moving up? With over 300 players going overseas and into the D-League in just the past few years, the timing of the IBL season is key for athletes to stay in shape, see some of the best competition, as the D-League and many overseas leagues have concluded their seasons, and gain exposure at a critical time of the year.
From the 2010 NBA Draft, chosen in the second round by the Milwaukee Bucks, 6’9” F Keith ‘Tiny’ Gallon saw the opportunity and joined the Lone Star Strikers this season. After time with the NBA’s Boston Celtics, then on to the D-League with the Maine Red Claws and Bakersfield Jam, ‘Tiny’ has found himself at a workout with the Milwaukee Bucks again after the IBL experience, looking to move back up.
The road to the NBA for many, is through the NBA Development League (D-League). The D-League has seen some IBL talent and vice versa. With over eight currently on active IBL rosters from the D-League as well as IBL Alumni, look for more development for diamonds in the rough to be discovered. 6’3”G Josh Tarver starting in 11 games for the Rio Grande Vipers, has found a home in the IBL to continue progressing in a game he loves in the late spring and summer months. 6’7”F Joston Thomas who found himself in camp with the Sioux Falls Sky Force when he opted to forego his senior year with the University of Hawaii and enter the 2012 NBA Draft,, has also found opportunity in the IBL. The 6-foot-7 forward got his first taste of what things could be like in the pros last May when he participated in a pre-draft combine with the Brooklyn Nets, now looking to be picked up by a D-League team again to realize a dream of playing in the league.
IBL Alumni 6’10”C Bryson McKenzie who was selected by the Idaho Stampede in the 2009 D-League Draft moved on to overseas positions from Romaina to Hungary and even Tunisia. Two 2012 D-League Draftees who will see each other in the IBL Playoffs next week, 6’6” F Chehales Tapscott and 7’1”C Joe Wolfinger have also found themselves overseas. Tapscott, who after his workouts with three D-League teams found himself with AZ Soleuvre in Luxembourg averaging 22ppg and 10rpg, his signature double double. 6’9” F Jared Cunningham who made it to training camp with the Idaho Stampede in 2012-2013, also spent time in Germany Pro B; all three are looking for another shot with either the D-League or overseas as the IBL season comes to a close.
Overseas is where a lot of players want to go and do not know where to start, especially those right out of college, the answer is the IBL. With authentic current partnerships, and those in the works from Europe to Asia, the exposure players, coaches and even officials receive from this league is impactful. 6’7”F Alex Hartman had time from Germany, Romania Liga I, the NBL in Indonesia to the Asean League in Malaysia, bringing his talents home to the IBL and time in training camps with the D-League Idaho Stampede. 6’7”G Cory Largent is a true veteran from Switzerland to Romania, the Western Carolina University product is enjoying his time in the IBL to inspire the up and comers on what it takes to stay in the game.
The IBL bj-League connection is strong and gaining momentum. From import impact players who have made their mark like 6’11”C Wayne Marshall, 6’9”F Lawrence Blackledge and 6’8 F Michael Parker, the now twenty-three teams in the premier men’s professional basketball league in Japan continue to look to the IBL for talent. Development of Japanese players is also a goal of the bj-League partnership and is another success this season with talent like 5’4”G Kosei Ban 5’5”G Takato Hara who returned to Tokyo for bj-League teams who have been working them out as they must sign their domestic players during this time. Returners like 6’3”G Masa Kataoka placing third in the league with Kyoto in the bj-League playoffs this season, and 6’7”F Daishi Hayakawa who continue to develop with the Nippon Tornadoes in their second seasons. The partnership signed in April 2013 with Commissioner Kawachi means the IBL and bj-League will continue to work together on growing the international exchange initiated by the Vancouver Volcanoes and Tatsumi Nishida over four years ago.
Development and opportunity does not stop at the players. In the latest glowing example of minor league to major success in Coaching, newly named Head Coach of the Memphis Grizzlies, David Joerger is a product of hard work, dedication and passion for the game from the minors to the majors, which inspires other coaches to keep developing. One IBL Coach, Joe Navarro with the Vancouver Volcanoes is already an NBA Special Assignments Scout and currently a guest coach for the Eurochallenge in Las Vegas during Summer League, while Head Coach of the Slam, Rob Ridnour continues his success locally as agents and teams approach with offers for both of them due in part to their successes in the IBL.
IBL Officials transitioned this season, now lead by eight year NBA veteran with time in the D-League, currently in the PAC-12 and WNBA, Tommy Nunez whose approach is to develop officials for the next level while they help players and coaches by advancing the game management in the IBL. “After officiating at various levels and with some excellent mentors, I am excited to share the knowledge I've gained. Working with advice from others, including George Toliver, Director of Referee Development of the D-League, I am hoping to create a excellent staff through a strong training and development program for seasons to come,” Nunez shared.
With another partnership announcement soon from the international league positioning to be a place for former NBA players, current D-League, overseas and just out of college talent to get their game up, we will see an increase in teams, agents, scouts and coaches that will take notice and GET IN THE GAME with the IBL.