NYC National Tournament Team Preview: What version of FMB will we see this year?
As the New York National Tournament inches closer, it’s time to dive deep into each team and evaluate their roster. Today I’ll take a look into FMB out of Westchester, who are making their third straight appearance in the tournament.
Fred Basso (Captain)
FMB are back in New York once again, making them the only team that have been at every tournament. This is a familiar roster, as Sky Williams is the only player who has not played with FMB in a national tournament before. This collection of talented players is always a serious threat on paper, but they have never been able to fully put it together, for one reason or another. Their best finish was a semifinal exit in 2017, which felt like an underperformance considering their talent.
Player to Watch
There are a lot of talented players on this team, a few you might put ahead of Ogunleye, but no one has performed as well for FMB on the national level than Ogunleye has.
In 2017, he had the ninth-highest PPR (16.0) in the tournament with a stat line of 15.8/4/3.3, shooting 54% from the field and 37% from deep. This included a 21-point performance against the eventual champions, Thundercats, in pool play, where Ogunleye shot 9-11 from the field, with his only misses coming from beyond the arc (3-5).
In 2019, Ogunleye led the tournament with a PPR of 24.6, which was over six points higher than runner-up Chris Hendershot’s 18.3. He put up a stat line of 18.5/9.5/3.5 and shot 55% from the field. His best performance in that tournament came in a loss, as he put up a 20-point, 13-rebound in a quarterfinal loss to the Bulls. It was a bizarre game that went into a delay due to a player not on FMB’s roster not leaving, which would’ve resulted in a forfeit for FMB. The momentum and energy was taken out of the gym, but Ogunleye kept up the intensity and did his best to lead a comeback in a strange second half.
Ogunleye is back with FMB again this year, and it’s probably unrealistic to expect him to improve on being the PPR leader in the tournament, but we can expect another impressive performance from him. The determining factor of how successful this team will be won’t be how well Ogunleye plays, as we know he’ll play well. It’s all going to come down to his teammates.
This is one of the players on this roster who I would argue is more talented than Ogunleye. I could even go as far and argue that Johns is the most talented player in the tournament, full stop. The problem with him has been consistency, and this was a major problem for FMB as a whole in last year’s tournament.
Johns came out in their first game on fire, scoring 25 points on 10-16 shooting from the field. FMB ended up losing 84-74 to the Bulls, a game in which they played without Ogunleye. Johns followed that up with nine points on 2-5 shooting against LA KIXX, a game FMB won 95-82.
He looked like two completely different players in those games, and then he didn’t play in their quarterfinal loss to the Bulls. FMB couldn’t get on the same page at all throughout the tournament, and that culminated with a player not on their roster trying to play.
If Johns is consistent this year and playing like the player he was in that 26-point performance, FMB is a completely different team.
Lack of chemistry
This is two-fold. First, it’s everything I’ve mentioned in the last couple sections. Last year it was rare to see them have their full team for a game, which shouldn’t be a problem for a New York team. Besides all of the absences and weirdness that was connected with this team, they also don’t mesh that well on the floor even when they’re all in attendance. There’s a lot of talent, but it can also lead into a lot of iso-ball, which creates varied results. It often looks like a team put together based on who can score the most in the Westchester league, but not based on who makes sense to play together. We’ll see how well this roster can jell.
There’s too much about this team that I don’t trust. A lot of that has to do with me only seeing them play in 2018 and not 2017, when they made a deeper run and didn’t have any unexpected delays. I think the talent in this tournament continues to grow, and if you can’t play at consistent level, you don’t have much of a chance. FMB hasn’t proven that they can do that yet, so an early exit seems more realistic than a deep run.