SK War Dog 53, Yaletown 47
SK Bounces Back, Bounces Yaletown
|In Second Match-Up in a Week, War Dog Exact Revenge, Hand Yale First Loss|
|August 3, 2008 - New York, NY (DL) - In this, the second game between Yaletown and SK War Dog in as many weekends, it started as a new game…same as the old game. There was Yaletown running 8 men deep in their layup lines (they actually improved on their attendance, as Wilson Wang and Eden Chuang were present, unlike last week when they were unable to help make it a 30 point win for the Mounties over the War Dog). And there, on the other end of the court, was Arif Ansari, lone wolf of SK War Dog, who had traversed the East Coast’s version of the Iditarod (Princeton to Manhattan) to try to get to the game on time, only to learn the rest of the pack was stuck in traffic (there’s no canine analogy for Sunday rush hour in NYC, sorry). |
It certainly was an interesting sight to see the one player from the team that was supposed to be playing next trying desperately to get a warm up shot off in between the casual shooters and the folks cooling down after the previous game. But what could he do, the trespassers outnumbered the owners of that side of the court, 3 to 1.
It’s been an all too common situation of late, SKWD barely able to field a team come tip off time. It seems this once popular franchise has had some trouble recently in garnering the interest necessary to make a strong run for the title. Olympic scheduling and mystery illnesses haven’t helped either. Of course, it’s still early in the season, so nothing is set in stone. But losing two games to the defending champs, Yaletown, would certainly put chisel to granite and cock the hammer back.
The remaining four members of the clan that would comprise the War Dog lineup this day did finally show up, albeit 10 minutes after everyone else was ready to go, which ended up pushing subsequent games back and drawing rebuke from the Julia Richman facility manager. The Commish is still considering some type of fine for this behavior for the remainder of the season. But at least the game was at hand, and Yaletown could go about their weekly thrashing of the discombobulated War Dog crew.
That’s how it started anyway, with the steady hand of Brian Yang (11 pts, 6 rebs, 2 assists, 4 stls) either ripping through the lane for a soft lefty hook or finding open teammates such as Wang (8 pts, 8 rebs) for cuts to the hoop en route to a 15-8 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Yaletown built the lead up to 9 early in the 2nd quarter when interim captain Ansari (regular captain Andre Liu is in China for the Olympics…watching, not participating) had seen enough. He implored his makeshift team to work the kinks out of its collective road-weary legs and play with some passion. The Dogs responded by matching Yaletown 9-9 the rest of the quarter, fueled by the aggressive play of newcomer Justin “Don’t Call Me Ryan Degracia” Antes (13 pts, 3 rebs, 3 assists, 3 steals).
SKWD continued to ride momentum into the 3rd quarter, as Nakul Rao (11 pts, 3/4 from three, 8 rebs) and Mo Hoque (11 pts, 7 rebs, 2 assists) drained back to back threes, and Antes and Eljay Aguillo (7 pts, 6 rebs, 3 steals) pushed the tempo despite the lack of War Dog subs. They outscored the Cannucks 21-10 in the quarter and somehow managed to take a 2 point lead to make things interesting in what looked like a snoozer just 30 minutes earlier.
Gang-green (Yaletown) went into the pre-4th quarter huddle frustrated but focused. They know their bread is buttered by the smallest big man on the court, Derik Kumagai, and they planned to get him on a roll (these articles are free, so you gotta take the good puns with the bad). How this 5’5” BEAST manages to fill every statistical category, save for turnovers and fouls, is a mystery to the rest of the league. But it’s a secret every player is trying to get his hands on, so that he can become the reigning MVP and Defensive MVP in the same season, a la Kumagai. Truth be told, the “secret” is actually quite simple: play extremely smart basketball, with no fear to penetrate, dish, and/or shoot good shots. And when the shot goes up, don’t use the “I’m a guard, I don’t rebound” excuse. Instead, stick your nose in the mix so you can grab 8 rebounds/game like this diminutive Rodman. Those are the traits that have created this astounding stat: coming into this game, Yaletown had not lost a single game with DK in the lineup, including the playoffs.
Kumagai (10 pts, 7 rebs, 3 assists, 3 stls) intended to keep that streak alive with his play in the 4th quarter. He consistently drove to the hoop and dished to an open Chuang (6 pts, 3 rebs) for the short baseline jumper or fed Nelson Wong (7 pts, 4 rebs) in stride for the easy layup. And when he wasn’t distributing the ball, he was hitting an open three pointer to tie the game in response to a War Dog three courtesy of Rao. The only shot Kumagai couldn’t hit came with :06 on the clock in the 4th and the game tied. DK drove the length of the floor, scurried to the hoop despite being triple teamed, and managed to get the shot off before the buzzer, which caromed harmlessly off the side of the backboard.
That set up the improbable scenario of overtime in what initially looked to be a duplicate of the previous week’s matchup, in which War Dog had to go on a 9-2 run late in the final quarter to make it a “respectable” 12 point loss. But this week, the tables had been sufficiently turned. War Dog opened the scoring with picture-perfect ball rotation that ended up in the hands of the smooth-shooting Rao, who hit his third trey of the game. After Yaletown was unable to convert on their possession, Aguillo sprinted downcourt and took a seemingly ill-advised three of his own which mercifully banked in (as in, Ansari decided to have mercy on his teammate after having run down the court and tumbled over his own feet trying to get in position for a better shot) to give SKWD the 6 point advantage and ostensibly the game. Yaletown was able to muster only a single point in the extra stanza, and War Dog kept their division title hopes alive early in the season with the win.
A quick comparison of a single stat from the two games between these teams provides enough justification as to the different results:
Game 1 FG %: SKWD = 38%; Yaletown = 50%
Game 2 FG %: SKWD = 42% (57% excluding Antes’ 6/25 shooting); Yaletown = 29%
SKWD’s refocused defense in round 2 seemed to be the difference between a close win and a big loss. But the Dogs still have major problems to deal with. Thirty-five points, 18 rebounds, and 5 assists came from three players (Antes, Rao, Hoque) who were not on the original War Dog roster and may not be readily available the rest of the way. Former MVP Akshat Tewary has yet to play a single game this season, and the team has had to scramble to fill out a starting five in both games to date. Rare is the team that can win a championship with so much fluctuation and inconsistency in personnel.
Meanwhile, this is likely a minor setback for Yaletown, who looked strong through all but one quarter of this contest. Once they get over the blemish this loss puts on DK’s streak, they will surely regroup and continue a strong push to repeat as champions this season.
Score by Quarters
|SK War Dog
|SK War Dog - 53|
|Player||FG||3PT||FT||REB||AST||STL||BLK||TO|| F ||PTS|
|Aguillo, Eljay||3 / 5 [0.600]||1 / 3 [0.333]||0 / 0 [0.000]||6||0||3||0||3||0||7
|Ansari, Arif||4 / 5 [0.800]||0 / 0 [0.000]||3 / 6 [0.500]||9||0||1||0||2||3||11
|Bautista, JR ||DNP|
|Degracia, Ryan||6 / 25 [0.240]||0 / 7 [0.000]||1 / 4 [0.250]||3||3||3||0||2||1||13
|Hoque, Mo||5 / 9 [0.556]||1 / 3 [0.333]||0 / 2 [0.000]||7||2||0||1||3||5||11
|Rao, Nakul||4 / 9 [0.444]||3 / 4 [0.750]||0 / 0 [0.000]||8||0||0||2||0||1||11
| ||22 / 53 [0.415]||5 / 17 [0.294]||4 / 12 [0.333]||33||5||7||3||10||10||53|
|Yaletown - 47|
|Player||FG||3PT||FT||REB||AST||STL||BLK||TO|| F ||PTS|
|Cho, Sung-Mo||0 / 4 [0.000]||0 / 1 [0.000]||0 / 0 [0.000]||3||0||1||0||0||1||0
|Chuang, Eden||3 / 9 [0.333]||0 / 0 [0.000]||0 / 0 [0.000]||3||1||1||0||3||1||6
|Keh, Seung Jae||1 / 2 [0.500]||0 / 0 [0.000]||0 / 0 [0.000]||0||0||0||0||0||0||2
|Kumagai, Derik||4 / 10 [0.400]||1 / 3 [0.333]||1 / 3 [0.333]||7||3||3||0||1||0||10
|Lee, Fred ||1 / 3 [0.333]||1 / 2 [0.500]||0 / 0 [0.000]||2||2||0||0||0||1||3
|Wang, Wilson||3 / 13 [0.231]||1 / 6 [0.167]||1 / 2 [0.500]||8||1||1||1||5||5||8
|Wong, Nelson||3 / 9 [0.333]||0 / 0 [0.000]||1 / 2 [0.500]||4||1||0||0||1||1||7
|Yang, Brian||4 / 15 [0.267]||0 / 0 [0.000]||3 / 7 [0.429]||6||2||4||1||2||2||11
| ||19 / 65 [0.292]||3 / 12 [0.250]||6 / 14 [0.429]||33||10||10||2||12||11||47|