Adidas Gauntlet 2 - New England Recap
In Atlanta last weekend, both the Mass Rivals and New England Playaz continued to be the class of the Adidas Gauntlet. Both teams went 4-0, to finish a perfect 8-0 in Gauntlet play, and earn automatic bids to the Gauntlet Finale in South Carolina during the first week of the July evaluation period.
In the weekend’s first match, the Playaz had their hands full with a talented Exum Elite squad which included 7-3 center Matt Van Komen and 5-Star Arizona commit Emmanuel Akot. Despite some poor shooting, the Playaz’ defense dominated the game, forcing 17 turnovers in a 53-51 game. The win was indicative of Playaz’ defensive prowess over the past two sessions which has become one of the stories of the spring. Ethan Wright led them in scoring with 11 while Nate Laszewski nearly had 9 points and 11 rebounds. Akot finished with 17 and 10 for Exum Elite, but got nothing easy throughout the day.
The Rivals relied on a balanced scoring attack on Friday night to overwhelm K-Low Elite. Ten different players scored in a 64-28 win while their defense forced 17 turnovers of their own and limited their Philadelphia counterparts to under 30% shooting. Conversely, the Rivals shot 44% from beyond the arc while recording 18 assists. A.J. Reeves, Akok Akok, and Alex Rivera all finished in double digits.
Rivals continued to breeze through the competition on Saturday with a 20 point win over Indiana Elite in the afternoon and a 16 point victory over Game Elite in the nightcap. David Duke led the way in the opener with 20 points and was handsomely rewarded with offers from Wake Forest and Virginia. Jimmy Yfantopulos added 3 steals and 10 assists.
In the nightcap, Rivals took on Game Elite. The game was close heading into halftime but Rivals opened the second half on a 12-3 run and never looked back taking a 62-46 win. Akok Akok scored 12 points, going 4-5 beyond the arc, and finished the weekend shooting 55% from long range. Rivera continued his hot streak as well, going 3-6 from beyond the arc on his way to 16 points and helping Rivals remain undefeated.
The Playaz had only one game on Saturday, a 26 point win over New York’s Castle Knights. The Playaz opened on a 45-16 run and could have won the game by a far greater number had they not taken their foot off the gas. Defense was again their calling card as they generated 12 steals and forced 16 turnovers. Five players scored in double digits including double-doubles from both Chris Doherty and Lukas Kisunas along with sharpshooting from both Ethan Wright and Nate Laszewski who scored 14 and 16 respectively.
Sunday it was the Playaz turn to play twice as they took on Florida’s Team Knight in the AM and Indiana’s EG10 Basketball in the afternoon. Against Team Knight, the Playaz jumped out to an early 12 point lead that helped them to a 12 point lead and finished with a 59-52 win. Laszewski, Chuck Hannah and Chris Herren all got into double digits while Wright chipped in 9. In the afternoon game, the Playaz were up 35-15 at the half before finishing with a 66-40 decision. Lukas Kisunas had a breakout performance scoring 19 points and hauling in 8 rebounds.
The Rivals finished the weekend with an early wake-up call, taking on a talented Dream Vision squad at 8am. David Mitchell and A.J. Reeves recorded 17 and 18 points respectively, shooting a combined 63% from downtown, to lead the way for a 63-56 win.