Category: Mr. PGBL’s Corner

2018-19 PGBL Quarterfinal Predictions

We are finally here! After 14 weeks of competition, we have arrived to the PGBL Playoffs. A set of exciting games is upon us, and we here at Mr. PGBL’s Corner are ready to dissect the storylines and the matchups that are in store. Without further ado, let’s just jump right into it:

Quarterfinal Matchup #1: PAS Giannina (3 seed) vs Revolution (6 seed)

The first of our two quarterfinal matchups features last year’s runner up PAS Giannina going up against last year’s surprise semifinalists, the Revolution. On the surface, it looks like Revolution come into this matchup as a significant underdog, as they struggled at times this season. However, PAS was probably hoping to avoid this matchup against their kryptonite in the Revolution. Why do I say this? Well, in both matchups during the season, the Revolution beat PAS twice, while holding them to only 38 points per game, both amazing defensive performances. The Revolution certainly know how to play defense, with potential Defensive Player of the Year Vangeli Carabeses on the perimeter and the looming Vasili Nasis in the low post. The Rev also have multiple players to throw at PAS’s MVP caliber forward, Evan Tsiklidis in the half court defense, should Tsiklidis decide to play iso ball in many of the half court sets. The key for the Revolution to win this game is to play a slow-paced, physical game, keep the score low, and attack in the low post on offense with their size advantage.

PAS, however, is a team that looked like it meant business towards the end of the season, as they rebounded from a poor start to storm to the 3rd seed. It all starts with Tsiklidis, who, despite what the Revolution have shown isn’t one that can be slowed down that easily. We all know about his length, size, and all around offensive game that allows him to get buckets from anywhere on the floor, but his ability to draw multiple defenders and kick to open shooters is where PAS really begins to diversify their offense. For PAS, guys like Dimos Touloumis, Laz Karasavas, and Niko Dinoulis all played very well down the stretch, while shooting well from the perimeter. Because of this, the Revolution would be wise to mix up their double teams and defensive assignments around Tsiklidis. Otherwise, they will have some trouble, because he is quite good at finding the open man. For PAS, if they can come out spacing the floor, with Tsiklidis spearheading the offense as a distributor in an effective drive-and-dish mentality, I believe that they will cause issues for the Revolution, as they will then have to divert their defensive attention to the other PAS players, which can allow Tsiklidis to exploit the individual 1v1 matchups later in the game. On the other end, PAS has enough versatility to be able to switch on most defensive matchups, but could have some issues guarding Nasis down low.

As far as my prediction for this game, it’s a tough one to call. The Rev have had PAS’s number for the whole year, and their defense will keep them in it. However, the Revolution may not be able to put up enough points collectively against PAS, who are a solid defensive team themselves. If Tsiklidis starts knocking down shots, the Rev will be in trouble. The X-factor to all of this will be Vasili Nasis. He’s been in and out this season, but when he gets going on both ends of the floor, he’s a serious matchup problem for anyone trying to defend him in the low post, as he’s the only Rev player that has the ability to match Tsiklidis bucket for bucket. This is gonna definitely be a low scoring game, and it will certainly come down to the final few possessions. But if I had to put my money on it, I think that PAS will be able to squeak it out and avenge their earlier losses.

Prediction: PAS Giannina over Revolution 56-51

Quarterfinal Matchup #2: Warriors (4 seed) vs Kings (5 seed)

The second quarterfinal matchup features two of the classic PGBL teams, with both having won multiple titles in their history in the league, and splitting their two matchups this season. The Kings come in as back to back champs, having won the title last year without the benefit of a bye week, while the Warriors come in having won 5 out of their last 6 games, including a very impressive win over the top seeded Outlaws to hand them their only loss of the season. The Warriors are certainly a well rounded team. Offensively, they primarily like to run the floor, with guards Aris Haritonidis and Spiro Karalis as two of the league’s fastest players. These two can cause havoc with their quick hands and ability to get into the lane off the dribble. However, the Warriors can counter other teams in the low post with pretty good success as well, with forwards Will Galiatsatos and Niko Papatsiaras being able to drop double digit points on any given night. On defense, the Warriors aggressive, pesky style allows them to get a bunch of blocks and steals to try and score easy buckets in transition. The Kings, with their limited depth and their lack of athleticism, will certainly have trouble with the Warriors’ fast style of play.

The Kings, however, have two things going for them that can turn the tide in any matchup: star power and outside shooting. When their whole team is present and available, the Kings have the league’s best offense. Bill Zonios can still hit threes at a prolific rate, and Chris Kourelias is an effective pass first point guard. But the Kings get really dangerous when they have Alex Veronis (2016-17 PGBL Finals MVP) and Niki Veronis (former league MVP) available on the floor, because with that, opposing teams can no longer man mark Zonios to deny him the ball for shooting opportunities. This is because both Veronis boys are so effective in getting to the basket off the dribble. This puts the Warriors in a difficult spot; if they choose to front the Veronis boys with their best defenders and help defense, they leave Zonios more room to shoot. Should they decide to deny Zonios the ball, the Warriors would be vulnerable to dribble penetration.

The keys to this game for both teams are a little simpler relative to the teams involved in the other quarterfinal matchup. For the Warriors, it comes down to forcing turnovers on defense, as they do this better than anyone else in the league. If they can cause havoc on the defensive end and limit Zonios’ perimeter shooting, they will have a great shot at winning this game. For the Kings, it’s availability. The Veronis boys did not play in many games together with the rest of the Kings squad, so their return to the court will come with a little concern. If the Veronis boys can shake off the rust and play the way they’re capable of playing, and Zonios can knock down the 3 ball, the Kings will be just fine. However, the Kings had little issue with rust last year, as they played by far their best game of the season against the Outlaws in the semifinals with all of their players finally healthy and available to play together for the first time that season. For my prediction for this game, I will assume that the Kings will have all hands on deck, and I think they’ll be able to overcome the Warriors’ speed and take home the victory.

Prediction: Kings over Warriors 68-62

PGBL Week 10 Game Recaps

Game 1

Kings 1 Revolution 0

(Kings win by forfeit)

Game 2

Warriors 64 Outlaws 55

It was a night for the underdogs in Week 10 of the PGBL season, as the Warriors put together a fantastic defensive performance and a great team effort to upset the undefeated Outlaws, snapping their 18 game regular season win streak right in its tracks. The Warriors put together their best performance of the season in this big upset victory, and they have made a huge step forward towards securing a playoff birth. The Warriors frustrated the Outlaws all night with their physical defense, as the Outlaws, typically an excellent 3 point shooting team, shot less than 20% from beyond the arc, and even as they tried to feed the ball inside, Warriors forwards Elias Kaltsidis and Will Galiatsatos made the Outlaw bigs work hard for every bucket. The Warriors jumped out to a 16 point lead midway through the first half thanks to excellent ball movement in the half-court set, with Galiatsatos and Niko Papatsiaras shooting the ball particularly well to start. The 2nd half saw the Outlaws begin to slowly chip away at the Warriors, as Laz Makrides began to turn on the jets in semi transition. Stephen Thomas also got in on the action when the Warriors sough to double Makrides, as he scored double digits as well. But it seemed like every single time the Outlaws got within 5 points, the Warriors responded. Aris Haritonidis had a fantastic 2nd half performance, scoring on an array of drives and mid range jumpers, while Kosma Kotopoulos scored several huge buckets to stop the Outlaw rallies from getting worse. Finally, as the Outlaws began the game of intentional fouling in an attempt to conserve the clock, the Warriors knocked down their free throws to ice the game and pull off the upset. It was a true team effort from a team like the Warriors that epitomizes it.

The Outlaws had an off night due to their poor shooting performance, but they were also without former PGBL MVP Pete Kada, whose physical presence could have certainly helped against a team like the Warriors. Fortunately, the Outlaws still have the inside track for the #1 seed, so long as they win out. However, it should be noted that an 18 game regular season win streak is something pretty difficult to do in any league, and the Outlaws deserve a tremendous amount of credit for balancing their star power seamlessly through unselfish ball movement and excellent perimeter shooting. This team will still go down in PGBL history as one of the league’s best. We’ll see if they can cap it off in the playoffs with a run to the championship.

Leading Scorers:

Warriors:

Aris Haritonidis: 20 points

Will Galiatsatos: 15 points

Niko Papatsiaras: 14 points

Outlaws:

Stephen Thomas and Laz Makrides: 18 points each

Game 3:

PAS Giannina 55 The Process 50

We were so close to seeing 2 upsets in one night, but alas, it wasn’t to be, as PAS Giannina withstood a great performance from the young Process and came back from 11 points down to secure yet another victory. The Process started the game in a groove offensively, as the pick and roll offense between combo guard Ahileas Yiantsos and forward Alkis Tsitsios was paying huge dividends for the Process in the early going, with Tsitsios scoring double digits in the 1st half alone. Additionally, the Process’ 2-3 zone spearheaded by Chris Dawson’s lockdown defense caused some issues for PAS as they struggled to get going offensively to start. It seemed to be written that the Process would pull out a solid victory, but as time expired in the 1st half, PAS’ star forward Evan Tsiklidis hit a shot from half court to provide the huge momentum shift going into the break. As the 2nd half began, PAS started to move the ball better around the perimeter, and allowed Tsiklidis to live in the paint, pick his spots, and score from all over the floor, as he turned in another dominant performance. PAS chipped away and eventually took the lead midway through the 2nd half, but The Process kept right at their heels, as Tsitsios and his teammates continued to get good shots in the half court sets. Unfortunately, a couple of unfortunate turnovers and 10 missed free throws in the 2nd half undid the Process’ chances, as PAS pulled away to secure a hard fought victory.

Leading Scorers:

PAS Giannina

Evan Tsiklidis: 37 points

Argyris Dritselis: 10 points

Process

Alkis Tsitsios: 17 points

PGBL Week 9 Game Recaps

Game 1:

Outlaws 88 PAS Giannina 49

Another PGBL week, another PGBL win for the Outlaws, as they put forth perhaps their best performance yet in a dominant win over PAS to make it 8 straight wins to start the year and 18 straight regular season wins dating back to last year, extending their own PGBL record. Laz Makrides was on form and in stride in this matchup, scoring 33 points on just one made three pointer, making his scoring effort even more impressive with his variety of drives to the bucket and points in transition. Jimmie Armentani had an off night scoring, but did an excellent job getting his teammates involved while running the point, as 3 of his fellow teammates (not including Makrides) went for double digits. On the other side of the ball, the Outlaws effectively shut down the PAS Giannina offense, as no one outside of Evan Tsiklidis scored more than 10 points. It was a barrage of points and pressure coming from the Outlaws, who seem to be kicking into gear right on time as the season runs down.

As for PAS, an off night is not the end of the world, as the occasional cold shooting night can happen from time to time, especially when there’s a limited amount of players in the rotation. And as we all know, tired legs increase the likelihood of missed jump shots. Fortunately however, PAS will be safely into the PGBL postseason with a win in their next game, and they still have an outside shot at securing the #2 seed in the league.

Leading Scorers:

Outlaws:

Laz Makrides: 33 points

Stephen Thomas: 17 points

Pete Kada: 16 points

PAS Giannina

Evan Tsiklidis: 26 points

Niko Dinoulis: 10 points

Game 2:

Kings 76 The Process 50

After getting thoroughly outplayed by the Warriors in their last game, the Kings managed to shake off the loss by pulling away late against The Process, beating them soundly in the 2nd half on the way to a victory. Bill Zonios’ shooting touch came back in a big way this game, as he knocked down 8 three pointers on his way to 33 points. The Process as a team did a very solid job defensively in the first half on the Kings, as they defensively leaned to Zonios’ side in a hybrid 2-3 zone to keep him relatively neutralized in the first half. But as the 2nd half ensued, Zonios kept stepping further back from 3 and kept knocking down shot after shot, leaving The Process understandably frustrated. And as the Process’ defense spread out to cover the 3 ball, Kings forward Laz Kalemis had his way down low, pulling down several offensive rebounds and putbacks on his way to a very nice performance on the night. The Process fought well in this game and managed to keep it close for the first 3/4 of the game, but they could not manage to score enough points to keep up with the defending champs. Alki Tsitsios, Pauly Rafailidis, and Tommy Tzumakaris battled with the Kings’ bigs well, but the physical toll of the game, combined with Zonios’ hot shooting, caused The Process to lose their 4th in a row. Not all is lost, however, as The Process still have two winnable games left against the Warriors as well as a rematch against PAS. The playoffs are still within reach for the young Process.

Leading Scorers:

Kings

Bill Zonios: 33 points

Laz Kalemis: 16 points

Process

Demetri Stergiou and Alkis Tsitsios: 14 points each

Game 3

Tune Squad 64 Revolution 52

The Tune Squad withstood a tough, rugged, and physical Revolution team to secure a solid team win as they pulled away late against the Revolution and secured their spot in the PGBL playoffs. It was a 2 man show for the Tune Squad on the offensive end, as both Ben Voudouris and Demetri Zanikos continued their impressive scoring runs as of late, both going for 20+ points against some tough defending. On the other end, Alexi Topalidis and Chris Voutsakis spearheaded the Squad defense, keeping the Revolution’s 3 point shooting to a minimum. And while the Revolution were mostly counting by 2s on offense, the Tune Squad were able to count by 3s, thanks to Zanikos and Voudouris’ 9 combined three pointers and 20 combined free throw conversions.

As for the Revolution, this was one of their more impressive performances of the season, going wire to wire against one of the league’s best teams even without star guard Vangeli Carabeses. Big man Vasili Nasis went off down low, scoring 24 points and imposing his will on the relatively undersized Tune Squad. Lefteris Ioannidis also chipped in double digits in points for the Rev. The Revolution certainly still have decent playoff chances going forward, as they have a couple winnable games left to decide their playoff fate. They’ll look to keep their positive momentum going, first against the Kings, before facing off again with the Outlaws.

Leading Scorers:

Tune Squad:

Ben Voudouris: 27 points

Demetri Zanikos: 24 points

Revolution:

Vasili Nasis: 24 points

Lefteris Ioannidis: 13 points