2019 NYC National Champs FMB score two players on All-Tournament Team
Now that the 2019 New York National Tournament has concluded, it’s time to announce the All-Tournament Team. If you’re new here, please know that I do not follow All-NBA Team guidelines when constructing these teams. Positions mean nothing to me. I always pick the five players that impressed me the most throughout the weekend, combining their stats, the eye test and their team success to come up with this team.
As always, these five are 100% the correct picks, but feel free to disagree with me (even though you’d be wrong).
Spencer Smith – FMB
Nowhere else to start than with the Tournament MVP. There’s no doubt in my mind that this was the most talented tournament we’ve seen in New York so far, as it seemed like each team had an at least one elite player on their roster, and many had multiple. I don’t think Smith was the most talented player in this tournament, there are other players that had higher peaks than him, but I do believe he was the best player in the tournament, as he never had a bad performance while leading FMB to a perfect 5-0 record and the championship. It showed in the numbers, as he led the tournament with a PPR of 25.6.
Smith’s worst game came in the quarterfinals against X Over, where he scored 16 points on 2-8 shooting (the only game where he shot under 50% in the tournament). His shot was off, but he still doubled his point total from his shot total, as he was 12-12 from the free-throw line. He had a massive impact on every game, whether he was scoring, setting up teammates or creating space for his teammates because of the offensive threat he is. He was much more than just a scoring threat though, as he led his team in points (20), rebounds (6.2), assists (4.2) and steals (1.6).
My favorite trait in a player in efficiency, and that was what made Smith’s performance in this tournament amazing. He easily cleared the 50/40/90 club by having shooting splits of 55/44/96. In a tournament that doesn’t have a shot clock, late-game free throws become paramount, and Smith was by far the most reliable player at the line in this tournament. He made 45 of his 47 attempts, and he went a perfect 38-38 in three games on Championship Sunday. A truly remarkable performance from Smith, and a very deserving MVP.
Tunde Ogunleye – FMB
Ogunleye and Smith were neck-and-neck in the MVP race heading into the championship game against the Villains. After four games, Ogunleye was averaging 21/6/4.8, slightly ahead of Smith’s 19.8/5.5/4. The deciding factor was Smith’s domination in the title game, while Ogunleye only played for 15 minutes. He was clearly dealing with some sort of injury or cramping, but he still scored 13 points on 5-9 shooting in those 15 minutes, which is an accurate display of how dominant he was in this tournament.
Ogunleye had a run in each game he played in this tournament where he could get a bucket whenever he wanted, and that was most evident in his performance against Treys 4 Days. FMB was in full control of that game and let a weaker team come back and make it close, but Ogunleye was going 100% the whole time, making a mockery of opposing defenders. He went off for 34, shooting 12-21 from the field and 5-8 from deep. He also had eight rebounds, six assists and five steals in what was the most impressive individual game this tournament saw.
That was the peak of his championship run, but he was consistently in control when healthy, and pairing him with Smith felt almost unfair. FMB is the only team that has been at all three tournaments, and Smith, Ogunleye and Garfield Johns are the only three players that have played in all three. Smith and Ogunleye have been consistently good every time they’ve played at Sky, and they both put together five great performances to lead FMB to the title. They’re both no-brainer picks for this team.
Josh McCarver – Villains
I was in a conundrum heading into the championship game between FMB and the Villains. I knew that if FMB won, Smith or Ogunleye would earn MVP honors. I was lost at who to pick for the Villains. You could make a compelling case for all five of their starters, and it almost would’ve felt disrespectful to only give it to one player. McCarver is the only player from the Villains on this team, which was also a hard decision to make, but he felt like the team’s most consistent player in their six-game run, which is funny, because McCarver himself was not impressed with his performance.
The frontcourt duo of McCarver and Reggie Jackson was too much to handle for multiple teams in this tournament, and they complemented each other’s games to help each have great tournaments. Jackson had higher highs as a scorer, but McCarver ended up averaging 15.5 a game, just ahead of Jackson’s 14.2. It was a lot of the similar scoring tactics we’ve seen from McCarver in the past, getting buckets in the post with his jump hook, draining face-up jumpers from midrange, and of course, a few electrifying put-back dunks.
The put-backs were a product of his offensive rebounding, which was on full display this weekend. His 4 offensive boards per game were the second-most in the tournament, trailing only Brock Shorter’s 4.7. He averaged 10.3 total rebounds per game, good for fourth-best in the tournament. He also tied a tournament record when he grabbed 18 rebounds in the championship game, tying him with…Reggie Jackson, who had 18 in their play-in game against DMV Ballers.
McCarver also had his usual impact on defense, and while he got beat for buckets on multiple occasions, he had to guard some of the best players in the tournament. He had stretches of guarding Travis Gabbidon, Byron Mouton and Tunde Ogunleye. Ogunleye is almost impossible to guard in any scenario, and McCarver had to do it during his fourth game on Sunday. That’s far from an enviable scenario. Despite the energy put into both ends, and playing 40.2 minutes per game in a six game run, McCarver was able to consistently produce for the Villains on their run to the title game.
Richie Byrd – RTG
While Byrd and RTG made it to the semifinals, I thought about not including him because he didn’t play in their first game, a crushing 61-60 loss to LA KIXX. I decided to add him because he turned into a saving grace for RTG, and if he was there against LA KIXX, there’s no doubt they would’ve gone 2-0 in pool play, and who knows where they go from there.
Byrd got his feet wet in the tournament with 17 points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals in a 57-41 win against the defending champs. Once he got one game under his belt, his scoring numbers took off. He would go on to score 28 points in the quarterfinals against Team Classic, then 29 in the semifinals against the Villains. Both of those performances came on 50% shooting, and he shot 45% or better from deep in both games.
His scoring was on display all weekend, so it’s fitting that his signature moment was a buzzer-beater against Team Classic (1:00:53 of the live stream). He came up to catch the inbound pass from Michael Mastro right behind the 3-point line, his back turned toward the basket. He was able to spin to his right and burry an 18-footer at the buzzer to send RTG to the semifinals.
It is interesting to think about what could have been different if Byrd played in that first game against LA KIXX, but we’ll never know. One thing is for sure though: Without the offensive talent of Byrd, this RTG squad doesn’t get to the semifinals. Their offense was stagnant in the loss to LA KIXX, and he provided the spark RTG was looking for to make a run.
Marco Banegas-Flores – Motivation
Byrd can be seen as a controversial pick due to him missing one of his team’s games, but RTG still made it to the semifinals. I rarely pick players that don’t at least get to the semifinals for an All-Tournament Team unless they really impress me. Banegas-Flores did that and then some, making things look easy in his National Tournament debut.
Banegas-Flores is two different players, and we saw both of them come out in this tournament. On Saturday, he was a pass-first point guard, constantly looking to set up teammates before eventually deciding to shoot if the opportunity presented itself: think of Steve Nash in his back-to-back MVP seasons. In their two pool-play wins, Banegas-Flores averaged 15.5/5/5.5 with shooting splits of 37/45/86. He had total control of the floor, never once looking phased or under pressure.
Then Sunday rolled around, and Motivation had to play the Villains once again, this time in an elimination game. The Villains looked like a much better team, and Motivation had no response. That is, no one on Motivation not named Marco Banegas-Flores had a response. He was Steve Nash on Saturday, but he turned into Allen Iverson on Sunday, getting his shot whenever he wanted to, and more often than not, making it.
I think his preference is to get his teammates involved as much as possible, but it was clear scoring was going to be an issue for Motivation in this one, so Banegas-Flores did his best to carry this team to the semifinals. He scored a New York National Tournament-record 40 points, and he did it on 14-20 shooting from the field, and 7-11 shooting from deep.
It was an incredible performance to watch, but unfortunately for Banegas-Flores, it wasn’t enough to get the win. It’s not how he wanted his tournament to end, but it was a star-making performance on the biggest stage. I’m extremely excited to watch him play in many tournaments to come.