The 2019 Drew League Semifinals are set and the four remaining teams should be no surprise to longtime fans. Every team but one has a championship pedigree and between them, they have two MVP candidates and the reigning MVP, some of the league’s top scorers and biggest names, and two of the winningest coaches in Drew League history. The playoffs were stacked going in, the cream always rises to the top and these last four teams are the best of the best. Let’s see how they match up.
The CitiTeam Blazers turned into a bulldozer halfway through the season after a sluggish start. The secret to their success: The injection of a fresh shot of talent from fellow former champions BB4L in the form of Casper Ware, his brother Ervin, and Van Girard. Along with the Blazers’ usual complement of attacking guards and devastating forward Malcolm Thomas, they became the hottest team in the league, clawing their way to a #2 seed in the Playoffs and smacking down Reapers and No Shnacks to earn the right to face Problems, another Drew League powerhouse.
The Most Hated Players led by Nick Young have been in this position before, but they’ve never had Askia Booker, presumptive MVP candidate and human flamethrower, who just might be the missing piece to take them over the top for the first time. They are supported at the forward position by Victor Rudd and DJ Shelton, and guard Shannin Sharpe has made his annual highlight dunk of the year a Drew League tradition. They outshot fellow high-scoring teams Baxter’s Legacy and All In to get here, but they now face a different sort of team in Public Enemy, who already defeated them in the regular season by the narrowest of margins.
Problems has the most championships of the four teams in the semis, dating back to the 2000s. They’ve got a whole new roster since then, but they’ve also got the same mentality, courtesy of Coach Mark “Taco” Caudillo. The new roster includes members of another championship team, Houdini’s All-Stars, who came over last year to revitalize the Problems franchise.
Now, twin snipers Garrett Nevels and Jaylen Bland lead their punishing offense along with athletic forward Deshawn Stephens; they have had some of the biggest victories of the season with this group. They beat the young CABC and the veteran former champs Redemption in rounds one and two, but Blazers might be the first team that can match them for youthful energy and veteran savvy. Blazers won handily the last time these teams played, but if Problems can make their free throws this time around, it’ll be a close, high scoring matchup.
Finally, with Public Enemy, you get one of the best new coaches in the Drew League, Tracey Mills, who coached Birdie’s Revenge to its undefeated championship in 2017, you get the three-time MVP, Franklin Session, who has become the Drew League’s very own superstar since then, and a complement of hard-nosed, fearless defenders who’ve choked out some of the Drew’s best offenses over the course of the past three seasons.
They’ve experimented with adding shooters like Bobby Brown and Mike James, but it turns out they’re at their best with the old squad, led by Session and his pitbull mentality on D. They took a brutal, bruising path through the playoffs, facing off with the physical Young Citi and Panthers, but that doesn’t mean MHP will be a cakewalk. The Most Hated will be looking for revenge after losing to Public Enemy in the regular season—don’t be surprised if this matchup ends up being historic.