by Peter Lacey Jr
The National Channel TNC-10
Last week to no one’s surprise, the teams that has hoisted 4 of the last 5 NEBL Championships each took 1-0 leads in their respective Semi-Finals Matchups. After all, the teams that faltered in their game losses both have some playoff demons to exorcise if they are going to get the NEBL Finals, in particular the Dangriga Dream Ballers.
It is not by chance or my tendency to bring humor to the live telecast of weekly NEBL installments that I have dubbed the Dangriga Dream Ballers “Shattered Dreams Productions”. The Ballers have had the second longest playoff appearance streak of 5, of which only the San Pedro Tiger Sharks have more with 6, having never missed the playoffs. In 4 of those 5 playoff appearances, the Ballers having been the favorites to win it all in 2017 and 2018, in my opinion at least.
But are the Ballers turning the corner, having avoiding a devastating 5th straight sweep out of the playoffs in 2018? I will analyze the Ballers chances of extending the series versus the Tiger Sharks chances of ending the series in a sweep, followed by Verdes on their chances of extending the series versus a 2-game sweep by the Canes.
Dangriga Dream Ballers #2 Seed vs San Pedro Tiger Sharks #3 Seed
The Ballers are 0-5 all-time in Game 1s and finally ended an 8-game playoff losing against the eventual Champions Hurricanes in 2018, however they are currently on a mini 2-game playoff losing streak.
The San Pedro Tiger Sharks are dominant in Game 1s with a record of 9-1 in their last 10 playoff matchups.
If coach Fernandez and Ballers management I will be hammering to the players and leaders of the team that they are 1-0 in their last Game 2 played. What should also bring comfort the Ballers Nation is that San Pedro Tigerharks are 0-3 in their last 3 Game 2s after going 4-2 in their first 6 Game 2s, sweeping the Bandits twice in 2014 & 2016 and sweeping the Cayo Western Ballers (now Verdes) in the Finals in 2015, when they captured their second straight championship.
San Pedro Tigersharks have also struggled in decisive Game 3s, having lost their last 2 Game 3s and 3 of their last 4.
With that said I will give the Dangriga Dream Ballers a 56% chance of forcing a Game 3 with a razor thin increase in their chances to win the deciding Game 3 to 57%.
Verdes #1 Seed vs Hurricanes #4 Seed
The Mirage Smart Belize Hurricanes are riding high off an amazing game winning 3 by Eyan Rene, to give the Hurricanes a 1-0 Series lead against the heavily favored Verdes, who came into the playoffs with the most Regular Season Awards of any team in 2019. The defending champions not only accomplished a first in making the playoffs in back to back seasons but also have a streak of winning the NEBL Championship anytime they make the playoffs. They will try to close out the series at home and accomplish yet another sweep, tying the San Pedro Tiger Sharks for most sweeps in NEBL History at 3.
But the team in which they are trying sweep are no easy out. Verdes tonight will be playing in their 6th Game 2 sporting a league best 4-1 in their previous 5, having being swept only once in the Finals against San Pedro Tiger Sharks in 2015. So when you really look at it, Verdes is undefeated at 4-0 in Semi-Finals Game 2s, taking a 2-0 Road Game 2 Record into tonight’s “Do or Die” matchup.
The Hurricanes are 5-0 in Game 1s but even off at .500 in Game 2s with a 2-2 Record.
In Game 3s Hurricanes are 2-0 and Verdes is 1-2, win their lone win coming at Home.
I am giving Verdes an 83% Chance of Winning Game 2 Tonight but have the Hurricanes winning the Series in 3 with a 67% Chance.
This will be the secondstraight season where a 6-6 #4 Seed will have the opportunity to make it to the NEBL Finals, having won a deciding Game 3 on the road.
I have said that I a predicting that the eventual NEBL Champion will come of the #2 vs #3 bracket, which I am becoming more convinced this will be the case because #4 Seed 6-6 Defenders that made the Finals got swept in the last year’s NEBL Finals. I am won’t predict a sweep, however, because for the first time in NEBL History, the Finals will be decided in an exciting 5-Game Finals Series.