NYC National Tournament schedule reveal: There are more questions than answers between LA KIXX and RTG

Ken Koerner (3) and Michael Mastro (9) are back to lead RTG

Ken Koerner (3) and Michael Mastro (9) are back to lead RTG

Up until August 21, we’ll be releasing the pool play schedule for the 2019 New York City National Tournament. Here is the third game of the tournament, set to take place at 11 a.m. on Saturday, August 24.

LA KIXX (GA) vs. RTG (NY)

There is a lot of unknown surrounding this game. If you look at either teams’ roster, both bring up some questions. LA KIXX have five players that have 11 games played or fewer, so they are made up of players that I’ve never seen play. They could be one of the worst teams in the tournament, or they could be a dark horse that could make a run. I have no idea.

RTG have familiar faces on their roster, but they only have six players currently listed on the roster. I’d assume there’s more players to be added, especially because RTG is based in Syosset, which is just about an hour outside of the city. We’ll see who the late reinforcements are. but as I type this, RTG only has six, which is concerning.

Key Matchup

Greg Little (LA KIXX) vs. Michael Mastro (RTG)

Neither of these players will lead their team in scoring, but both will be important to their team’s success in this tournament. Little can combine his 6’5” frame and athleticism to score inside and dominate the glass, while Mastro scraps for every rebound he can get, averaging 15.8 rebounds in his career at only 6’3”.

Greg Little (white jersey)

Greg Little (white jersey)

Little was inconsistent at last year’s tournament, shining in some games and almost disappearing in others. A perfect example of this is to look at his stats from consecutive games. In a pool play game against FMB, Little shot 1-11 from the field, 1-9 from deep, scoring three points and making no trips to the free-throw line in a 95-82 loss. He followed that up with a 30-point, 13-rebound performance in a 60-46 win in an elimination game against $Ball. He shot 9-15 from the field, 3-4 from deep and 9-11 from the free-throw line. He scored half of his team’s points and carried them to a win. The result of their games in this tournament could mostly depend on Little’s play.

Mastro has played on two different teams in the past two tournaments, with last year’s Thundercats being a pseudo-super team compared to RTG in 2017, which was more comparable to this year’s roster. He had more individual and team success in 2017 for a few reasons. First, he had a bigger role on a team with less talent. Second, the overall talent increased in last year’s tournament. He saw his points per game drop by 6.6 and his rebounds per game drop by 2.9 from 2017 to 2018. It’ll be interesting to see what version of Mastro we get this year. He’ll have a bigger role on this team than he did on last year’s Thundercats, but the talent in the tournament is on par with last year. If RTG is going to have success, they’ll need a productive tournament from the Hall of Famer.

Prediction

Again, there are a lot of questions regarding both of these teams, so a prediction feels pretty moot. When in doubt, I always give the benefit of the doubt to teams that have players I’m more familiar with. In this case, that would be RTG. I’ll take them to win by five points.