REBS RUN AWAY WITH CHIP
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This looks like the one that will stick.
Yup, after more makeovers than Cher herself, the Running Rebels appear to be the identity with which this team will stick.
Care Bears, Fighting Hellfish, Scrappin’ Squirrels – was there any other name we missed – after a name change every season for the last 4 seasons, this team, who has maintained the same core across all that time, has found that neither caring, fighting, nor scrappin’ nor being bears, hellfish, nor squirrels compares to running or being rebels.
Capping a two-game sweep of the 3rd seeded Ironmen, on Thursday night, the 4th seeded RR settled into their new title of AAA-Elite Champs with a 65-52 win that was pretty much a picture perfect representation of how their season was: a lot of Jack Ma, a lot of Will Pun - they each dropped 18 points – a healthy serving of Steve Hong (13 points, 12 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, 2 blocks – man, that’s a mouthful), and a peppering of Sean Zhang (8 pts, 10 rbs.) As usual, no Nelson Yu. Apparently the player/coach has not mentally returned from Hong Kong, having left his brain in Lan Kwai Fong.
RR turned a close 31-28 halftime deficit into a runaway blowout by outscoring the Ironmen 22-6 in the 3rd quarter, bringing to mind Q1 of Game 1 when RR set the tone of this series with an 18-5 quarter that set them on their way to take that game.
The Rebs had to win Game 1 to get to Game 2 and in doing so, and then winning Game 2 as well, they became one of those rare teams who came into the Finals with no losses to give to finish up taking it.
'09 Winter/Spring AAA-Elite Champions: Running Rebels (L to R - Back: J. Tam, S. Zhang, V. Lee, T. Ng, S. Hong, J. Ma; Front: W. Pun, S. Lee, V. Yip)
Having that happen is not really odd in the DL, but while we’re on the topic of odd, how much did the Ironmen hate the odd quarters in this series in which they were outscored a combined 67-29? Ouch, it was as if the Ironmen were severely allergic to prime numbers. Optimus Prime, they were not.
RR scrapped, fought, and cared enough to effectively hold the Ironmen into shooting a forgettable 29.5% from the field, a much better job from Game 1 and though fumbled the ball away too many times and shot regrettably from the foul line, overcame all that junk with the gem of a 3rd.
That too was a reflection of their season in which they had to overcome a lot of junk that many teams may have wilted from.
Injuries were no friend of theirs’ as first, Hong, who was on the team’s roster from the start, sat out virtually the entire regular season with a bad back before coming into play the final game of the season and then the playoffs. He was shrouded in controversy that took the league office weeks to figure out whether he should have been eligible to play in the post-season or not (you're supposed to play at least 3 regular season contest to be playoff eligible, but hardship exceptions are granted.) Clearly, without him, there is no chip. But, it was ruled in the end that he was a legal participant, and so for it, RR will not apologize.
Tony Ng, a valuable spot-up shooter and hustle defender, was sidelined midway through the season and never returned to the floor, but there he was on the sidelines in the playoffs offering moral support – the kind of intangibles a team can’t teach. In contrast, look at the Ironmen - where on Earth was Brian Yang all season long? He showed up for 2 games and made nary a playoff game. He wasn’t injured. Where was his heart?
The team played through the pain however, and in the end, they got to the finish line first. (Immediately after the Finals, Zhang aka Baby Yao, was schedule to undergo surgery – talk about a warrior.)
Perhaps no player is more deserving than that of Seth Lee who has been there through it all. He is the mastermind behind this franchise, having known a few players from the Cornell courts in college. He’s been the calm behind the storm, steering his teams as Red Auerbauch might have the Boston Celtics. He’s tweaked the line-up each season, changed their name millions of times, provided constructive criticism through articles he writes, and come on the court to throw in a 3-pointer or two every once in awhile just when his team needed it most.
So while, Pun is known as the Punisher, Ma is Jimmy Chitwood, Zhang is Baby Yao, and Hong is just a freakin’ beast, let’s give this one up to Seth Lee.
Seth Lee the Care Bear.
Seth Lee the Fighting Hellfish.
Seth Lee the Scrappin’ Squirrel.
Seth Lee the Running Rebel.
Seth Lee the champion.