With just four teams remaining in the Drew League tournament, Saturday's semifinal matchups figured to be hotly contested games.
This is a pro-am event, but players of this caliber have a lot of pride. In some instances, bragging rights are almost as important as championships in more established leagues. The rosters are made up of talented current, former and future NBA players, and some who have exclusively taken their talents overseas.
The group has combined to create some exciting moments up to this point.
The semifinals and championship game should create even more excitement.
The first of the two games featured C.O.A taking on Hank's Cheaters 2. The late game is Cheaters taking on Hank's Houdini's All-Stars. Here's the bracket heading into Saturday's action.
Here's the final bracket:
And here's the recap for the remaining games.
Hank's Houdini All-Stars Claims Title
With an 84-83 win, The All-Stars took down C.O.A and it's huge front court on Sunday to win the Drew League championship.
Former NBA All-Star, Baron Davis congratulated coach Allen Caveness via Twitter.
It was Davis' Cheaters squad that the All-Stars defeated in the semifinals on Saturday. In the semifinals, the All-Stars got a legendary performance from Corey Allen in an epic 4-OT marathon. Allen went for 40 points to push his team to victory.
On Sunday, the All-Stars had a much more balanced attack led by Allen's 25 points.
If the team were giving out an MVP award, Allen would be the man to get it. He averaged 32.5 points over the team's last two games.
The game didn't end without controversy as Law Murray reports.
C.O.A had an opportunity to take one last shot in an attempt to win the game, but the officials did not grant them a timeout. Even with the less-than ideal finish, nothing should detract from the All-Stars' accomplishment.
Coach Caveness squad earned the right to call themselves champions.
Drew League Season Awards
Before the title game began, league officials gave out season awards. Cheaters' scoring machine Mike Efevberha aka "Money Mike" came away with the league MVP.
Ervin Ware of Cheaters 2 was voted the league's Most Inspirational Player.
His father, Casper Ware Sr.—who coached both Cheaters squads won Coach of the Year.
C.O.A Defeats Hank's Cheaters 2 83-72
Behind a strong and dominant inside presence from Craig Smith, Julian Wright and Jerome Jordan, the No. 2-seeded C.O.A squad avoided the upset and pounded the No. 5-seeded Hank's Cheaters on the inside.
Per the tournament's official Twitter account, Smith's double-double was instrumental in bringing in the win for C.O.A.
The team is on a roll coming into the championship game. Saturday's win marked the fourth in a row after a slow start in group play. Overall, C.O.A is 8-3 with just one game separating them from a Drew League championship.
Smith is a 6'7", 265-pound bull on the inside. He's a six-year veteran of the NBA and has played for the Minnesota Timberwolves, Portland Trail Blazers and Los Angeles Clippers.
He hasn't been on an NBA roster since the 2011-12 season. Last year, he played in the NBA Developmental League for the Sioux Falls Skyforce.
Wright has taken a similar path. He last played in the NBA during the 2011-12 season for the Toronto Raptors but now plays professionally in Russia. He was the 13th overall pick by the New Orleans Hornets back in 2007.
The biggest of all the C.O.A frontcourt players is the 7-foot Jerome James. The former New York Knick plays professionally in Italy. With such a wealth of size and NBA experience, it's easy to see why C.O.A is on the threshold of a title.
Hank's Houdini All-Stars Defeats Cheaters 86-85 (4 OT)
The championship game will have a tough act to follow after the second semifinal game on Saturday. The Cheaters and Hank's Houdini All-Stars went through four overtimes before the latter finally emerged with a hard-fought 86-85 win.
The All-Stars' head coach, Allen Caveness, spoke with Network United's Law Murray about the championship matchup after the game:
Cheaters came in as the No. 1 team led by former NBA All-Star Baron Davis, but Cory Allen's 40-point outing pushed his team to victory.
The current University of South Florida guard put on a performance that is sure to make him a Drew League legend moving forward.
Allen averaged just nine points per game for South Florida last season, but its clear he has the ability to get hot.
Davis had a chance to win it for his team at the buzzer, but he couldn't convert in the final seconds. The All-Stars will take on C.O.A in the final, and they'll have to contend with a ton of size and NBA experience.
James, Wright and Smith sounds like a law firm, but Allen and Co. have already proven to be rule-breakers by taking down the tournament's top seed.
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