Who Will Advance to Thursday’s REC+ Finals?
FRIDLEY REC+: Final Four Preview
By Jake Gave | Fridley League Coordinator
7 p.m. - No. 2 Bigsmash (7-2) vs. No. 3 Bulls (7-2)
Leading Scorers: Joe Suek (25.1), Zhao Lee (24.6), Lethzee Calderon (15.1)
Bigsmash stamped their ticket to the final four last week with a 3-point victory over Uncle D.A. and the Killers that was a bit too close for comfort. The game was neck and neck the entire way, and the Killers actually held a five-point lead at the half. Bigsmash eventually chipped away at the lead and completed the comeback, largely due to a pair of huge performances by Joe Suek and Glen Fair. Joe finished with 26 points and 16 rebounds, knocking down four 3s and also getting to line for 8 easy points. Glen shot 75 percent on the night for 19 points and pulled down 6 boards as well. They will need a more complete performance tonight however if they hope to knock off a more talented Bulls team.
Leading Scorers: Derek Hamner (23.1), Da’Jon McKnight (20.5), Mahlon Thomas (19.3)
The Bulls took down Bakke’s Bombers last week in the Elite Eight to move one step closer to the title. The Bulls were able to hold about a 10-point lead the entire game and kept the Bombers from ever making a big run. The Bombers attempted to slow down the Bulls with a zone defense to no avail, and Da’Jon McKnight torched them for 35 points on 71 percent shooting. Mahlon Thomas was also able to feast in the paint, finishing with 17 points and 10 rebounds. The win was especially impressive considering the Bulls were playing without their leading scorer in Derek Hamner. Hopefully Derek will be back for the game tonight because he gives this squad a big boost.
PREDICTION: Bulls -4.5
Last time these two teams played was all the way back in Week 1, where Bigsmash was able to make easy work out of the Bulls. The Bulls shot a lowly 35 percent in that game, but they also didn’t have Mahlon Thomas on the squad yet. A lot has changed since Week 1, and I like the way the Bulls are trending a lot more than Bigsmash. Bigsmash has made a habit of squeaking out victories against middle of the pack teams. I think the Bulls will punch them in the mouth early and Bigsmash won’t be able to recover in time. I’m going Bulls in this one.
8 p.m. - No. 1 FOB Five (9-0) vs. No. 5 Wolves (6-3)
Leading Scorers: Brian Sames (24.9), Sean Smith (24.6), Adam Hoven (21.2)
FOB Five had a bit of a lethargic start last week against the Jumpshot Hustlers but eventually figured things out to advance to tonight’s final four. FOB was actually down by two points at the half to the Jumpshot Hustlers, who were playing their second game of the night. After an ejection and an injury on the Hustlers side forced them to only four players, it was all but over. FOB turned it on in the second half and ran away with a 20-point win. Brian Sames was hustling all over the place, nabbing 6 steals to go along with 23 points and 8 rebounds. Sean Smith led all scorers with 24 points and 5 assists. Adam Hoven made his usual huge impact with 16 points, 13 rebounds and 5 assists. They will look to keep that level of play from the second half rolling tonight.
Leading Scorers: Neal Anderson (22.0), Bryan Munsell (19.2), Hans Albrecht (18.4)
The Wolves were the only underdog team who were able to advance to the final four after defeating The Originals. Even though they weren’t favored to win, it wasn’t a huge upset by any means because we all know the Wolves can ball. They were able to jump on The Originals early and maintained control for the rest of the game. The Wolves forced the league’s best offensive team into a rough 43 percent shooting night which included an abysmal 27 percent from deep. The Wolves weren’t a whole lot better themselves, but they were able to get to the line for some easy buckets. Neal Anderson stepped up in a big way, finishing with 28 points to lead all scorers. Bryan Munsell chipped in 20 points of his own on 58 percent from the field. These guys have the firepower to stick with FOB, we’ll see if they’re on tonight.
PREDICTION: FOB Five -8.5
The last time these two squads met was also back in Week 1, and FOB Five came away with a 92-84 victory. That game was full of offense as both teams shot over 50 percent from the field and 40 percent from deep. I expect this game tonight to be very similar to that, as both of these squads love to run and gun. The Wolves will have to stick to their bread and butter which has been their ability to penetrate and get to the line. They lead the league in free throw attempts (17.4) and that would be a great way to slow the game down and throw FOB off of their rhythm. However, FOB has just been too good this season so I can’t justify picking against them…I’m sticking with the top seed here.