Don’t let the “plumber” talk fool you; at the Drew League, anybody can get it. Just look at Saturday’s matchup between the limping Citi Team Blazers and the formerly undefeated Black Pearl Elite. BPE, who took LeBron James and the Cheaters down to the wire a week before, looked like the clear favorites, with a 5-1 record to the Blazers’ 2-5 one. On top of that, BPE had loaded up, bringing in Trae Young and John Collins to bolster both their back and front court against the flagging Blazers squad.
But then the ball went up, and once the game is in motion, it all comes down to chemistry, consistency, and coaching. Saturday afternoon, the Blazers had all three on their side. For probably the first time all summer, they looked like the “Dynasty Killer” Blazers of old. They had a full roster, including offensive and defensive anchor Malcolm Thomas, who racked up a double-double with 13 points, 13 rebounds, and 6 assists. Kevin Punter poured in 26 points of his own, and three more players – Andy Cleaves, Jerome Randle, and Shevon Thomas – scored in double digits.
On the other side, a so-so performance from “Ice” Trae had our announcer Jorge calling him “Lukewarm.” While he finished the game with 22 points and 7 assists, it was BPE mainstay Mike Nwabuzor who led Black Pearl with 26 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists. Collins had 16 and 12, while Week 6 standout Dion Wright had 15 and 8. No other BPE player scored in double digits – which might have been the difference. While Blazers played as a team, Black Pearl’s usual leaders were relegated to backing up their shiny new stars… and in the Drew League, it’s rarely the star power that drives the wins. Let that be a lesson to the newcomers and fans at home: don’t take these “plumbers” lightly, or you could watch these professional basketball players flush your dreams of victory right down the drain.