2018 FBA Season/18.05.18/BAL@WIL/Capsule
You are looking live at Patriot Stadium in Williamsburg, Virginia, a historic American city, with an FBA franchise that has a proud history of its own. Good evening folks, I'm Cedric O'Toole, here to bring you Game 7 of this first round series between the Williamsburg Minutemen and the Baltimore Spirits.
They call this divisional matchup The Bus Rivalry. With the two teams within 200 miles of each other, they don't really need to fly between games, so both teams take the bus.
And here we see the Spirits exiting their bus moments ago, led by the 2017 FBA Rookie of the Year, Erik Toivonen. The young Finnish reindeer forward, along with husky Rodger Umaechi, have been key to the success of the retooled Spirits, and both will need to have good performances tonight to advance to the second round.
Also entering the arena, the host Minutemen, led by their great head coach, Morgan Roosevelt. After 35 seasons of being the one and only head coach in the history of the franchise, Roosevelt has announced that this is his final season.
As we can hear -
The crowd grows raucous.
PA Announcer: Please welcome onto the court, YOUR WILLIAMSBURG MINUTEMEN!
O'Toole continues, clutching his headset.
- this home crowd is determined to will their Minutemen to victory, and extend Coach Roosevelt's farewell tour. We'll return with tipoff right after this! You're watching the FBA Playoffs on FSPN!
The crowd gets loud again, just before the telecast cuts to commercial.
Back from commercial, and the crowd roars once more in anticipation of tipoff.
The ball is tipped, and we're underway in Game 7...
The early going has an appropriate feel of an old school, physical Eastern Conference bout. The two teams trade buckets, each one hard earned. Umaechi, better known for flashy offensive play, makes a point of defending Renee Fiora. He stays on her as if the two dogs are tethered to a shared leash, and gets a hand up on every shot she takes. The result is frustration for the fluffy malamute, as she has no shots made from the floor. Williamsburg point guard Vera La Tierra doesn't fare much better against Baltimore's tag team of Robert Munteanu and Lindsey Morrison, who combine to hold the vixen to 1 of 4 shooting, with two misses from three. The Spirits' starting guard duo also have four assists between them, with Munteanu feeding one each to Umaechi, Toivonen and Morrison, and Morrison returning the favor by setting up Munteanu for a three. Despite all this, Williamsburg holds their own, with Crystal Davis pouring in 9 points (including a thrown up corner three that looks strikingly like a certain infamous glitch in the old Nontentsu game Double Dribble), and both Rebecca McCloud and Todd Hu working together to come up with rebounds at one end and finish at the other. The Minutemen even hold a two point lead briefly before giving up a 9-2 run in the last two minutes, which allows Baltimore to take a five point lead at the end of the first.
BAL 27 WIL 22 | END OF FIRST QUARTER
Early in the second quarter, Fiora finally ends her scoring drought with a finger roll layup. Unfortunately, it's not the end of her struggles. With her vixen and malamute teammates having a rough go of it, the scoring burden shifts to Crystal Davis. But the cheetah is not her legendary father, who could take over a game as a scorer, and at one point she misses three straight shots. Baltimore, on the other hand, continues to build on the momentum from their run at the end of the first. The second quarter is a story of more of the same for the Spirits, with Umaechi, Toivonen and Morrison leading the way in scoring, and Morrison and Munteanu finding their teammates with timely assists. The entire team also further increases their defensive effort. This is most exemplified by how Toivonen goes at it with Timothy Svengaard. The two cervines butt heads, so to speak, as if this seventh game were the rut. The Finnish reindeer ultimately wears down the big red deer, who is knocked out of the game with shoulder soreness before the quarter ends. As the two teams head to their locker rooms for the halftime break, the Spirits have doubled their lead to double digits. Needless to say, Coach Roosevelt has some adjustments to make before the second half begins.
BAL 47 WIL 37. | HALFTIME
As the third quarter unfolds, the crowd has grown less enthusiastic and more tense, and the Spirits continue to build their lead. Veteran guard LV McDyess, traded to Baltimore from Santa Ana earlier in the season, provides a punch off the bench, going 3 of 4 from the field. Rookies Joao-Miguel Tavares and Lucy Cousland help out with a pair of assists for each. One of those assists finds Toivonen on the break, who rises up and flushes it down with a thunderous two handed dunk. That throwdown puts the Spirits up 21 with a minute to go in the quarter, and seems to put a punctuation mark on what is shaping up to be a runaway affair in favor of the road team. But before the quarter ends, Fiora earns a small victory. She draws a foul, colliding with Umaechi when the husky attempts to take a charge. She falls to the floor and clutches her abdomen, clearly in pain. Umaechi, in a show of sportsfurship, helps her back to her feet. She then steps up to the line and calmly drains both of her free throws, before having to be taken out of the game. The foul shots trim Baltimore's lead only slightly, and the Spirits lead by 19 as the fourth quarter is set to begin.
BAL 81 WIL 62 | END OF THIRD QUARTER
However, as Baltimore already begins to empty their bench, Williamsburg finally starts to put together a run of their own, which eventually grows into a furious rally. It would seem that the Minutemen have been inspired by Fiora's display of heart at the end of the third, as it starts raining threes for the home team. Crystal Davis hits a pair, as does the Irish albino wolfbat Mikaylah Marley. Eleanor Rigby adds one for good measure. Their opponents, by contrast, start putting up brick after brick. Cousland goes 0 for 4. Corbin Li'Arci misses all three of her shots. Even McDyess only manages a single make in the fourth. By the time the Spirits put their starters back in, what once seemed like an insurmountable lead is reduced to single digits. The Spirits' fortunes do not improve. They try to run a couple isolation plays with Umaechi, trying to get their offense going through their star. But the Minutemen are ready for this, and the husky meets much of the same resistance he presented to Fiora earlier. Quintessa Hartnett, who normally focuses on her defense, tries to get involved on offense, only to miss a pair of baseline floaters. Munteanu and Morrison, who had little trouble finding their teammates for easy buckets before, each commit a pair of costly turnovers.
20 seconds left. Davis drives the lane. La Tierra sprints from the top of the arc to the corner, Davis finds her with a baseline bounce pass...SHE GOT IT! Vera La Tierra with a three to put the Minutemen up one with 12 seconds left! Wiliamsburg leads 95-94! Baltimore takes their final timeout!
O'Toole pauses for few good seconds, allowing the audience to hear the Patriot Stadium crowd explode in jubilation.
They serenade La Tierra with a chant of "MVP! MVP! MVP!"
Morrison inbounds to Munteanu, he sees Umaechi leaping up towards the basket, he throws a lob pass...blocked by McCloud! Umaechi tries to corral the miss, but it goes out of bounds! The referees are signaling that Umaechi touched it last! Turnover! Williamsburg ball with 5 seconds left! All they have to do is inbound the ball, and they punch their ticket to the second round! Williamsburg takes their last timeout!
Davis inbounds to La Tierra at midcourt - and Toivonen jumped the inbounds pass! It's a steal by Toivonen!
Toivonen makes a break for the hoop...Davis and La Tierra hot on his tail...Davis puts a paw up...Toivonen throws up a hook shot...
...IT'S GOOD! TOIVONEN AT THE BUZZER! BALTIMORE WINS!
Toivonen slides to the floor and plays air guitar, just before his teammates mob the court to carry him off to the locker room.
The Williamsburg crowd is stunned silent.
On the broadcast, the steal and hook shot buzzer beater by Toivonen is replayed in slow motion.
Erik Toivonen with the play of his life to save the Spirits' season! A steal off the inbounds pass, and a hook shot to beat the buzzer!
Williamsburg head coach Morgan Roosevelt is seen storming off to the locker room, the gray haired raccoon visibly pissed off.
And for Coach Roosevelt, a surefire future Hall of Famer, he indeed gets a Hollywood ending, but it's not a happy one for him and the Minutemen. Clearly he is very disappointed and frustrated that his team, one he has coached to value fundamentals over flash, failed to execute the most basic play in the game, a clean inbounds pass.
And that will do it from Patriots Stadium in Williamsburg. Toivonen hits the game winner, and Baltimore steals a one point win on the road to advance to the second round, and eliminate the Central Division champs! For our entire FBA on FSPN crew, I'm Cedric O'Toole. So long, everybody!
BAL 96 WIL 95 | FINAL | BAL WINS SERIES 4-3