SQ At The Basketball Tournament’s Million Dollar Final
by 24 August 2015, 10:10 PM
The 2015 Finals of The Basketball Tournament
After a nearly month-long process of whittling down 96 teams in four different geographical regions down to just two remaining competitors, The Basketball Tournament’s $1,000,000 final was upon us. The two teams left standing, Overseas Elite and Team 23, fought hard throughout the regionals and the Super 17 to reach the final game; Team 23 as a 13th seeded underdog, and the Overseas Elite as one of the favorites as a 3rd seed.
Overseas Elite came out strong from the get-go, and it was clear that their plan was to get former St. John’s star DJ Kennedy going early. Kennedy scored his team’s first seven points as they jumped out to an 8-0 lead over Team 23 in the game’s first two minutes. Davin White, Team 23’s go-to scorer throughout TBT, worked hard on both ends to keep his team in the game however, including a highlight reel block on what looked to be an easy layup for Overseas Elite’s Myck Kabongo.
Thanks in large part to White’s performance and the Overseas Elite’s carelessness with the ball, Team 23 managed to get themselves back into the game quickly, and tied it up with about ten minutes left in the half. Overseas Elite turned the ball over a whopping ten times in the first half, but unfortunately for Team 23, they struggled to hold onto the ball as well with 12 turnovers of their own.
One of those turnovers occurred when Kabongo, a former University of Texas standout, picked White’s pocket at midcourt, exacting his revenge on White for the earlier block, and was able to convert the easy fast break layup to push Overseas Elite’s lead to six with under three minutes to play in the first half. The team managed to maintain a five point lead, and went back into the locker room up 35-30 over Team 23.
The second half was an incredible whirlwind of momentum changes and three pointers from both teams. Alex Scales hit his only three of the game to put Team 23 up two with 12 minutes left in this million-dollar final, but Paris Horne answered back with a three of his own to snatch the lead back for Overseas Elite, who managed to extend their advantage to six points with just under seven minutes to play.
At this point, Davin White answered the call for Team 23 as he had for the entire tournament, catching fire and hitting three after three when his team desperately needed buckets. White hit five of his six threes and scored 20 of his 34 points in the second half, and repeatedly kept Team 23 in the game late.
With just under 20 seconds remaining, and with his team trailing Overseas Elite by five, White hit a gutsy three pointer to cut the lead to just two. After some missed free throws by the Overseas Elite, Team 23 had a chance to either tie or win the game on TBT’s final possession. White was essentially taken out of the equation by some suffocating defense by Kabongo and Horne, as an unfortunate last sequence for Team 23 ended with them unable to even attempt a shot before the final buzzer sounded.
DJ Kennedy was, as Overseas Elite Coach Drew Morrison remarked after the game, “a warrior” throughout, as he scored 24 points on 8/15 shooting to go along with five rebounds. White finished with 34 points, but was the only Team 23 player in double figures.
“We didn’t believe that one man could beat us,” said Overseas Elite’s Errick McCollum, who finished with 15 points, including three triples. White’s heroic effort nearly proved McCollum wrong, but ultimately the lack of a balanced scoring distribution was a major aspect of Team 23’s downfall.
Defense certainly wasn’t their problem, as they forced Overseas Elite to commit 16 turnovers, causing Morrison to remark that, at times, “it felt like there were six guys out there, all playing suffocating defense.” It simply was not enough, however, as the Overseas Elite triumphed, and proudly hoisted the giant $1,000,000 check after their victory.
Rest assured that Team 23 will return with a vengeance next summer, along with Overseas Elite looking to repeat as champions and secure yet another massive (and potentially larger) payday.
Check out SQ’s exclusive footage of the championship showdown below!
Also, watch our post-game interview with the MVP of the finals, DJ Kennedy, and his teammates in the Overseas Elite:
Edited by Dylan Turk.
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