Former NBA player Glen "Big Baby" Davis carried the Nationwide Souljas during stretches of the 2018 Drew League season and into Sunday's championship game, but his absence proved costly when his team lost to Redemption with the title hanging in the balance at Los Angeles Southwest College.
The Drew League announced Davis was out, and Chuck Garcia and Jonathan Gibson took advantage and led their side to the championship with a 99-92 victory.
Garcia finished with 24 points and 12 rebounds, giving Redemption a go-to option in the back-and-forth final.
While Garcia tallied a double-double and anchored the winning effort, Marc Wilson drilled the biggest shot of the game when he connected on a three-pointer to put Redemption ahead by four in the final minute after the contest was tied at 89 heading into crunch time.
Nationwide Souljas appeared to be in control out of the gates even without Davis when Jordin Mayes and Mike Martin spearheaded the offense in the early going with their outside shooting. Nationwide Souljas built a 51-44 halftime lead and impressed on the defensive side as well behind former Houston Rockets guard Cuttino Mobley and Aaron Harrison.
Despite the impressive play from multiple players, fans missed the opportunity to see Davis battle former LSU big man Chris Johnson down low. Johnson has the size to challenge Davis on the blocks, which Most Hated Players was missing in the semifinals.
Even with DeMar DeRozan and Nick Young on the roster, Most Hated Players didn't have the interior defense to stop Davis from pouring in 34 points and reaching the title game.
Redemption didn't have that type of NBA firepower, but the combination of Garcia patrolling the boards and Gibson adding offense through his slashing and dimes to teammates was enough to prevail against Nationwide Souljas.
The storylines didn't stop with the players Sunday, as Aaron Williams of the Drew League's website noted Redemption head coach Keion Kindred and Nationwide Souljas head coach Roland Jones used to be on the same staff. According to Williams, Kindred was on Jones' staff and said of his former mentor "I'm beyond proud of Roland and what he has been able to accomplish. I always told him that coaching was his calling!"
The pupil surpassed the teacher for at least one night, as Redemption won the 45th Drew League championship Sunday.