Quarterfinals Game 1:
Warriors 95 Kings 85
The first quarterfinal matchup saw an offensive explosion, as the Warriors and Kings traded bucket after bucket all the way throughout the game in an instant classic, with the Warriors pulling out a fantastic victory. The Warriors utilized a fantastic strategy throughout the game on both ends of the floor, starting off on defense by focusing their attention on Kings star Bill Zonios, limiting him to only 15 points and two three pointers, significantly below his regular season averages. On offense, Warriors utilized their speed to get plenty of buckets in transition, while seamlessly finding the open man in a motion-happy offense. Co-point guards Spiro Karalis and Aris Haritonidis ran the show, dropping plenty of assists while each chipping in 16 points, but it was Niko Papatsiaras who went off from the field. Papatsiaras picked a great time to score his season high 35 points, including 6 made three pointers. The always steady Will Galiatsatos also added double digits in points.
The Kings, however, kept the game very tight and competitive as they typically do, as their explosive, three point happy offense kept pace with the Warriors for the majority of the game. With the Warriors focusing on Zonios, Kings point guard Chris Kourelias had a fantastic evening scoring the basketball, pouring in seven three pointers and 45 points, a league high this season. It was a remarkable display of offense from Kourelias, who typically plays as the solid, pass first point guard that spearheads the Kings offense. The Kings performance on offense was made even more impressive by the fact that they played shorthanded, missing both Alex and Niki Veronis. It was definitely a worthy performance from the defending champs, who despite being eliminated, will certainly be back to challenge for the title next season and keep the dynasty going. As for the Warriors, they will continue their run on Thursday, February 28th in a rematch against the top seeded Outlaws, whose only loss of this season came against these Warriors, who seem to be turning it on at the exact right time.
Niko Papatsiaras: 35 points
Aris Haritonidis and Spiro Karalis: 16 points each
Will Galiatsatos: 15 points
Chris Kourelias: 45 points
Bill Zonios: 15 points
Dean Kosiras: 12 points
Quarterfinals Game 2
PAS Giannina 61 Revolution 45
The Revolution pulled off two wins vs PAS in the regular season, but the third time was not the charm, as PAS put together a solid and complete team performance on both ends of the floor, getting their revenge with a near wire to wire double digit victory. PAS’ excellent team defense was on full display in this game, as they held the Rev to only 16 first half points. PAS also managed to dominate the interior and on the boards, keeping the Revolution from coming back into the game with second chance points. Evan Tsiklidis led the way on offense for PAS, as he usually does, scoring 28 points by his typical fashion: doing a great job of getting to his spot in the midrange game, and using his length to exploit his matchups in the low post. Argyris Dritselis certainly did his part on offense, hitting 4 of his three point attempts in a solid scoring performance of his own.
The Revolution struggled to get going collectively on offense, as their top 2 scorers from the regular season were unable to get going. But Jake Sotiros did all that he could to power his team past PAS’ suffocating defense. Sotiros had a fantastic game, scoring his season high 27 points from an array of shots all over the floor. It was a tough performance on offense for the Revolution, but they kept themselves in it with their own great defending. One of the hardest working teams in the league, they’ll be back next season to compete for a title. As for PAS, they’ll look to book their ticket to the PGBL Finals on February 28th when they take on the #2 seeded Tune Squad.
Thursday, February 28th, 2019
Game 1: Warriors vs Outlaws
This first semifinal matchup will certainly have some added intrigue to it, as the Outlaws will look to get some revenge on the Warriors for snapping their PGBL record 18 game regular season winning streak. These two teams are similar in their run and gun offensive styles, but they differ in their personnel. As we know, the Outlaws are loaded up on talent, especially on the perimeter, with swingmen Pete Kada and the MVP-caliber Laz Makrides, and combo guard Jimmie Armentani. Any of these guys can go for 30 points on any given night. Meanwhile, Stephen Thomas provides the low post presence that the Outlaws were somewhat lacking last season. To beat the Warriors, the Outlaws will look to stick to their typical game plan: run the floor, shoot 3 pointers, and exploit the individual matchups.
The Warriors personnel, while somewhat lacking in star power, make up for it with depth, blazing speed, and unmatched hustle and endurance. With Spiro Karalis and Ari Haritonidis co-running the point, and Niko Papatsiaras on the wing, the Warriors can cause havoc in transition and in their perimeter defending, while also getting solid offensive contributions. However, I believe that the key to this game for the Warriors lies in their interior, where they caused significant problems for the Outlaws in the previous matchup with their tough, physical play. Will Galiatsatos and Ilias Kaltisidis are two players who cannot be pushed around, and their rebounding and interior defense payed huge dividends for the Warriors in their defending of Stephen Thomas and Laz Makrides this season.
As for my prediction, it will certainly be an entertaining game, as both teams love to run up and down the floor. The Warriors are going to make it very tough on the Outlaws, as they are the team best equipped defensively to neutralize the Outlaws’ perimeter shooting and run and gun transition offense. However, I would be lying if I said that the Warriors weren’t aided by the Outlaws’ horrible shooting night from 3 in the previous matchup. I’m not sure if I can see it happening again, as the Outlaws shoot the ball exceptionally well on most nights, and are too talented to brick so many threes this time. This game will definitely be close, and I won’t be surprised if the Warriors can beat the Outlaws again, especially considering how well the Warriors have been playing. However, the Outlaws are out for revenge, and I think they’ll bring that added intensity to book their place in the final.
Prediction: Outlaws over Warriors 73-65
Game 2: PAS Giannina vs Tune Squad
The other semifinal matchup features last season’s runner up in PAS, going up against the upstart, expansion Tune Squad, who I believe is the league’s most complete team. With star point guard Louie Karapanagiotides, the versatile Chris Voutsakis, scoring machines Ben Voudouris and Demetri Zanikos, and defensive pests Alexi Topalidis, Stef Grigorakakis and Ari Raptis, the Tune Squad can put out a tremendous 5 man lineup while also having great depth coming off the bench. Their only particular issue this season, much like the Kings, has been availability for games. But in the games when they’ve all played together, it’s been quite good to watch. PAS typically likes to play a slow and physical game, as they make up for their lack of athleticism with sound defending, good ball movement, and opportune shooting. Thus, I believe that the Tune Squad should try and get their transition game going to score some easy points if they hope to overcome PAS.
PAS, as I just said before, plays a slow, physical game, but they like to space the floor on offense, relying on dribble-drive penetration from Evan Tsiklidis in hopes that defenses collapse and that open shooters have their space to shoot in rhythm. With Argyris Dritselis, Laz Karasavas, and Niko Dinoulis all being capable 3 and D players, they complement Tsiklidis perfectly. PAS will certainly be able to beat the Tune Squad should they decide to keep the game slow and low scoring, and it’ll definitely help if Tsiklidis goes for 30+ points.
As for my prediction, I believe that versatility is the key to who wins the game. To me, the Tune Squad is more equipped for this. They can switch every defensive assignment, score from inside and out, and have the muscle (Raptis and Voutsakis in particular, to physically match with PAS. PAS will keep the game close with their style of play and excellent defending, but I think that the Tune Squad will pull away at the tail end to book their place in the final. However, this prediction hinges on whether or not all their players will be available. That remains to be seen, but I’m assuming that they”ll be there.
Prediction: Tune Squad over PAS 61-56