Drew League Semifinals Preview

It took ten weeks, 142 games and three huge upsets in the quarterfinals to get here, but it’s finally the Drew League semifinals. Only four teams remain and by the end of the weekend, one will have the distinction of being the 2018 Drew League champions.

MHP, Nation Wide Souljas, Redemption and No Shnacks have take on all comers and some have shocked the world to get here, but now, as always, they must leave all excuses at the door if they want to outlast the remaining competition and take home the title of best team in summer basketball.

In MHP and Nation Wide Souljas’ matchup, the key will be size: Big Baby Davis was the catalyst to Nation Wide’s upset against Problems, and he’s likely to be expected to fill the same function here. Neither team is shy about shooting the ball; Nation Wide may actually hold the edge here, as Marcus “Mr. Iso” Williams and Jordin Mayes are both pro scorers who can light up the scoreboard when called on, and Davis is excellent at passing out of the post as opponents’ defenses collapse on him.

Unfortunately for Nation Wide, the same could be said about the Blazers, whom MHP dispatched pretty handily on Saturday. The trouble with getting into a race to 100 with MHP is that their whole game plan pretty much revolves around doing just that, and while that strategy would generally be just fine for most teams, playing MHP presents a special problem in stalling their steady march to ridiculous point totals: Nearly all their starting backcourt players tower over their equivalent defenders, making blocking them basically impossible. Nation Wide more or less has to play MHP’s game, with a dental floss thin margin for error. If they miss too many of their own shots, MHP can drown them in buckets.

Meanwhile, Redemption and No Shnacks present a different set of issues for each team. Neither has an especially distinct advantage, as each team prominently features elite pro scorers in the backcourt. Jonathan Gibson has been a veritable cash machine for Redemption, earning him the George-bequeathed nickname of “ATM.” He also practically prints money for them at the line, while setting up teammates Ekene Ebekwe, Chuck Garcia and Chris Johnson for bunnies off the block. Of course, they are all capable of getting buckets on their own, so No Shnacks will have to work double-time on defense.

That’s a door that tends to swing both ways though. Marvelle Harris has been on a tear this season, ringing up head-turning point totals that only compliment the flame-throwing Larry Gordon and Sean Marshall. All three guards are prone to scoring 20 points or more a game, which means double-teams are out of the question, but man-to-man defense may present matchup issues for Redemption. In their previous meeting during the season, Redemption only barely edged out No Shnacks, who have played with a chip on their shoulders all along.

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