Karl Gusner won his 2nd Most Valuable Player Award in the Dream League NL's 10-season history after guiding the East Bay Cardinals to their 2nd-ever NL championship. Gusner was previously named MVP in the 2003-04 Winter/Spring season, in which he led Pacific Coast Real Estate to its 3rd and last championship in the prior 4 seasons. Gusner is now one MVP award short of the all-time leader, Hubert Liu of Alliance and, more recently, Game Time. However, Gusner now has 4 championships at the highest level of the Asian American Dream League, 3 more than Liu. Gusner became only the 5th MVP out of 11 to have won a championship that same season.
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
Karl Gusner, East Bay Cardinals
TOP DEFENSIVE PLAYER
Andre Lockett, Rich's Rayguns XI
FIRST TEAM ALL-LEAGUE
pg Taraz Lee, Wildcatz
sg Karl Gusner, East Bay Cardinals
sf Mike Kraus, Game Time
pf Sunny Margate, Driven
c Andre Lockett, Rich's Rayguns XI
SECOND TEAM ALL-LEAGUE
pg Jeremy DelaCruz, Play Hard II
sg Carlo Lacsamana, Driven
sg Carlos Gacula, Play Hard II
sf Mike Reding, Wildcatz
pf Ross Lim, East Bay Cardinals
Yih-Wei Chien, Play Hard II
Seve Nocon, Rich's Rayguns XI
PAST MVPs (* = won championship):
2006 Winter/Spring - Karl Gusner, East Bay Cardinals*
2005 Summer/Fall - (tie) Sean Caiola, Bay Area HEADS and Mike Reding, Wildcatz*
2005 Winter/Spring - Hubert Liu, Game Time
2004-05 Fall/Winter - Hubert Liu, Game Time*
2004 Spring/Summer - Michi Langfeldt, Setai Cossa
2003-04 Winter/Spring - Karl Gusner, Pacific Coast Real Estate*
2003 Summer/Fall - Jeremy Lee, Setai Cossa*
2002-03 Winter/Spring - Brian Liang, Game Time
2002 Summer/Fall - Conant Chi, Old Dawgs
2002 Spring/Summer - Hubert Liu, Alliance
A look at some past playoff runs gives evidence that Gusner's clutch performance in the playoffs is becoming legendary. This season, he put the East Bay Cardinals on his back by scoring 6 of their last 10 points, then finding teammate Ross Lim for a layup at the buzzer in the first-round heartbreaking win over Game Time. Game Time would not recover, getting upset by Jeremy DelaCruz's triple-double performance for Play Hard in the next round (DelaCruz was named Second Team All-League).
Gusner's next victim was the Wildcatz. With 1.8 seconds remaining, he hit a buzzer-beater to send the game into overtime, then iced the deciding free throws to advance. In the championship against Driven, he scored 24 points including two buckets that put them over the top.
Andre Lockett of the perennial "expansion" team headed by the commish, the Rayguns, was named Top Defensive Player. He grabbed nearly 15 rebounds per game, almost twice as many as his nearest competitor, and rejected 2.3 shots per game. Lockett, a former MVP of the AL-Elite for Kurruption, will be undergoing shoulder surgery this summer.
Other newcomers to the NL All-League selections besides Lockett included Sunny Margate of Driven, Carlo Lacsamana of Driven, and Ross Lim of the East Bay Cardinals.
Margate made his first appearance in the NL after a period of work schedule conflicts ever since his return from a stint as a pro in the Philippines a year or so ago. Lacsamana was a clutch sharpshooter for Driven. The young yet NL-battle-tested Lim finally got the nod for his game-saving and -winning play during the playoffs for the East Bay Cardinals, despite the otherwise consistent but quiet numbers.
In the Summer 2006, there will be some player movement amongst the all-stars. You can expect Gacula to join forces with DelaCruz and former all-leaguers Al Yee and Alvin Vinoya (who also has an AL MVP under his belt) on the Cawit Law Office team, which is a deja-vu version of the Rayguns from the past, which represented the core of DelaCruz, Yee and former NL rebounding champ Donnell Scobie of the Wizards. Cawit Law will be coached by the former Wizards coach, Jonas Valdemoro.
Making the Honorable Mention list were Yih-Wei Chien, Play Hard's center, and Seve Nocon, the Rayguns' point guard. Chien will join Game Time in the summer season, which should bode well because no other Game Time player aside from Kraus played at an all-star level. Guard Johnny Liu was only 0.4 points per game off his previous season's pace, yet increased his assist totals to 2 per game, but either more Game Timers need to average double-figures or Liu will have to make a conscious effort to get up around 14-15 points per game and crack the Top 10 in scoring for Game Time to make a bigger splash. Nocon, a native of San Jose, will take the season off.
Notably absent from any all-star mentions were not only players not named Kraus from Game Time, but also last season's co-MVP, Sean Caiola, who transitioned from the dormant Bay Area HEADS to Driven, as well as Driven teammate Ryan Cruz. Caiola spent a part of last season injured while trying to fit in with the new and unproven Driven team chemistry. The numbers clearly point to an opportunity: nearly 8 points and 3 assists per game below his MVP output, yet nearly the same amazing .543 shooting percentage. Cruz, the frontcourt running mate for Margate averaged nearly 13 points per game on 50 percent from the field, but hasn't yet displayed clutch performances in the playoffs that are hallmarks of the members of our First and Second Team All-Stars. However, he is only 19 years old and will be a pillar of what looks to be a bright future for Driven.