What can you expect when two of the PBL’s top offensive teams meet for three games in the final four weeks of the regular season? If you’re Lake Michigan, the answer is defense.
The Racine Storm (9-3) rolls into southwest Michigan Saturday evening, one game behind the first place Admirals (11-3) in the Midwest Division. The visitors are intent on seeking revenge for a season-opening 114-105 loss to the Admirals on December 6.
“This is the biggest game of the season,” noted Admiral Coach Ace Jackson. “This will be huge toward winning the division.”
“The name of the game is defense,” explained Admiral Guard Tony Franklin. “We have a great defense. Our goal is to jump out early, then shut down their top scorers.”
That’s a tough order for a team averaging 118.9 points a game, but then, the Admirals are averaging 118.5. Racine has the league’s third leading scorer, Thomas Cobbs, averaging 26.78 points a game. Cobbs has scored 48 points against Lima and 40 against Danville during the season. “He’s a scoring machine,” said Admiral Owner Chris Glisson.
“We have to stay in front of him, but we know he’s going to score some baskets,” Jackson said. “I expect to start Courtney (Blackmore) against him. He’s last year’s PBL Defensive Player of the Year and a bigger guy can stay in front.” Jackson added if Cobbs becomes too quick, he’ll switch Troy Franklin Jr. on the 6-foot 4 guard.
For Racine, it means double trouble. Franklin Jr. leads the PBL in steals and Blackmore is second. Glisson says fans should watch the match-ups. “The key to the game will be team work, passing up good shots for great shots,” he said. “If the defense can keep them under 100, we win”
The Admirals are allowing 105 points a game compared to 115 for Racine. Much of that is the result of rebounding. The Admirals will showcase the league’s top two rebounders in Nicholas Waddell and Nathaniel Barfield.
Waddell, the Admirals 6-foot 7 forward, says he’s looking forward to the game, especially since his little brother will be in attendance. “We have the complete team. We just need to come out with high intensity in the first five minutes.” Franklin, who also ranks third in assists, agreed. “Sometimes we come out flat, but we play hard. We have a scrappy defense and with the big guys under the basket, we wear teams down.”
Glisson has put more emphasis on training for this year’s team, enlisting the partnership of Vince Strefling’s and Performance One Training. “We are most definitely in the best shape ever, “he added.
Jackson says it’s going to be match-up upon match-up. Reginald Bunch is Racine’s second threat, averaging 22.91 points and 8.9 rebounds a game. “It’s going to be a battle the whole game.” Jackson said the Admirals need to stay away from a high scoring game against Racine.
Tipoff for Lake Michigan’s final home game is at 6 PM. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students.
Rochester Brings Support to Courtney Wagner
Rochester, NY - The undefeated Rochester RazorSharks (12-0) will face an unfamiliar foe on Saturday, February 28th, when a scrappy Philadelphia Flight come to the Blue Cross Arena for their second match up of the year.
The last time these two met was on December 20th, when the RazorSharks defeated the Flight 122-109 in Philadelphia.
For the 'Sharks, it was an impressive team victory as everybody who played scored and nine players were in double figures. Kyle Randall led Rochester off the bench with 20 points, thanks to his impressive shooting performance at the free-throw line where he made 14 of 15 attempts. Anthony Stover proved to be too big for the Flight's undersized frontcourt, and posted a tidy 13 points, seven rebounds and four blocks.
While Philadelphia may be undersized in comparison to Rochester's big men, they are not short of players who can score the ball. Guard, Charles Swiggett, had a game-high 33 points last meeting and comes into Saturday's game averaging 23 points on 44% shooting from beyond the arc. Forward Russell Johnson used his strength and athleticism to score 20 points against the RazorSharks, which is one point shy of his season average.
This weekend's game comes with uncertainty for Rochester, as many things have changed since their first meeting. While Philadelphia's roster remains the same, the fact that they have had two months to build chemistry could be a reason to give Rochester a scare on Saturday. Anytime you give a group of talented players a chance to play together for an extended amount of time, there will surely be improvement.
Most importantly about Saturday's game will be the RazorSharks contribution to help fulfill a young girl's dream. Courtney Wagner, a 17-year old Canandiagua High School senior, has been battling stage-four brain cancer for the last three and a half years, will sign a one-day professional basketball contract with the RazorSharks on Friday at 3pm. The signing of her contract at the RazorSharks front office, will officially make her the honorary captain and part of the team’s starting lineup for the 1pm tipoff against the Philadelphia Flight on Saturday.
Titans Still Searching for Season First Victory
Lynchburg, VA- The Titans hope to pull off their first victory against the team that made them suffer their largest loss of the 2014-15 season, but this time they will be the hosting team.
The winless Lynchburg Titans (0-9) suffered a 61-point loss on January 3rd when they traveled to New York to face the Buffalo 716ers (6-8) and loss 141-80. Fortunately for Lynchburg, the 716ers are coming off a 108-105 loss to the Carolina Pee Dee Vipers (10-2) on Thursday and will have to travel to play Lynchburg and travel back again to play Florence.
Tipoff for Saturday's game between the 716ers and the Titans will be at 7pm at the Lynchburg Armory.
Rochester, NY- Starting on Friday, February 27th the Rochester RazorSharks will bring one girl’s dream to life, and will look to their fans on gameday, Saturday, February 28th, to help her accomplish another.
Courtney Wagner, a 17-year old Canandiagua High School senior who has been battling stage-four brain cancer for the last three and a half years, will sign a one-day professional basketball contract with the RazorSharks on Friday at 3pm. The signing of her contract at the RazorSharks front office, will officially make her the honorary captain and part of the team’s starting lineup for the 1pm tipoff against the Philadelphia Flight on Saturday.
The opportunity to make a young girl’s dream come true doesn’t stop there for the four-time PBL Champion RazorSharks. Courtney has always dreamed of meeting talk show host, Ellen DeGeneres, and the RazorSharks want to help make her dream come true.
Every fan who mentions #GetCourtneyToEllen to the box office will be given free admittance to Saturday’s game and become a part of helping Courtney meet her long-time idol.
Erik Tonge, Vice President of Marketing for the RazorSharks stated, “Our job is to help this young lady get to Ellen. We need everyone in Rochester to help participate, by spreading the hashtag; #GetCourtneyToEllen.”
As part of their 70s theme for the game, the RazorShark’s will be giving away six free tickets for Rochester’s “Ugly Disco,” Benefit Ball to the best dressed costumes at the game. The “Ugly Disco” is a community event that helps support Golisano’s Children’s Hospital.
Come to the Blue Cross Arena Saturday February, 28th at 1pm as the RazorSharks are set to host the Philadelphia Flight. Don’t forget to support Courtney by presenting the hashtag #GetCourtneyToEllen or visit our Facebook page to print out our 70’s Night flyer.
Thursday Night Begins Extended Trip in South Carolina
The Pee Dee Vipers take on the Buffalo 716ers Thursday, Feb. 26 at 6:30PM at the Civic Center. The Vipers were originally scheduled to play Philadelphia, but will host Buffalo to make up for the missed game on January 10. Extreme winter weather throughout the Northeast blocked Buffalo from making the trip to the Pee Dee.
Buffalo has not traveled to Florence this season, but the Vipers defeated the 716ers 107-90 in Buffalo on January 17.
The Vipers regretfully had to cancel the game scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 21 against Lynchburg due to winter weather in Virginia. The team wants to make sure that its fans get to experience what was planned for that game. So folks can expect exactly what they would have on Feb. 21!
The same ticket discount (see below) will be honored.
Get ready for our annual "Vipers Games" halftime! It'll be a duel for the books this year. Three groups will battle it out for gold, silver and bronze in our version of the Olympics.
Three groups of four will start with a potato sack race up and down the court. The last group to finish will be eliminated, so hop to it! The remaining two teams will face off in a tug-of-war battle, a cheesy, creamy snack toss and a shake-a-thon. Stay tuned for prize details. Sign up when you arrive at the merchandise table. Teams will be chosen during the 2nd quarter.
Indianapolis, IN- Indianapolis Diesels' guard Harry Marshall signed a major contract to play professionally for a team in Greece.
Marshall joined Iraklis Thessaloniki, a team on Greece’s A2 level, located on a northern harbor off the Aegean Sea, Thessaloniki. This also happens to be the second largest city in Greece and is home to a very strong and dedicated fan base. Other famous notable Americans that played for this team include Roy Tarpley and Xavier McDaniel.
The departure of Marshall, Indianapolis’ leading scorer, will be tough to replace but the team is excited to see their star point guard receive an opportunity to play overseas.
Marshall, an Indiana State alum, joined the Diesels last year when the franchise made the move from Columbus, Indiana to Indianapolis. Making an impact was no problem for Marshall as he anchored the Diesels back court with guard Greg Foster.
The duo led the Diesels to a Midwest division title and an undefeated record at home. Indianapolis finished the year one game short of the PBL title to Rochester last season, after falling in game three of the 2014 Championship Finals.
Marshall now joins Foster as the Diesels player continue to move forward in their career with new professional opportunities. Foster currently plays for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants in the NBA Developmental league.
Indianapolis is currently 5-5 on the season but does have a 4-1 record at home. as they look to continue their strong home record on Sunday at 3 p.m. against the Lake Michigan Admirals.
PBL Mourns After the Recent Passing of Amir Billups
On Saturday, February 14th the Premier Basketball League lost someone very dear to them. Amir Billups, a starting point guard was killed in a multi-car pile up in Morrow County, Ohio, near Columbus.
Amir Billups is a 2008 graduate from Starpoint High School. While at Starpoint he scored 855 points as a four-year starter on the varsity team.
A humble person who did not let being a professional get in the way of his roots, Billups returned to Starpoint on March 19, 2014 for an alumni basketball game and won the halftime three-point shooting contest, sinking 9 of 15 shots.
After high school, Amir would go on to attend SUNY Fredonia Blue Devils to further his education. He graduated with a Business Administration major and a minor in Sports Management. Billups played on the Blue Devils basketball team for four years as a college athlete, averaging 12-points per game and tallying 687 total points as a collegiate athlete. While at Fredonia he picked up the nickname "Bucketz" for his skillful shooting behind the three-point line.
Billups joined the 716ers for their inaugural 2013 – 2014 season. During this first season, Billups averaged over eight points per game, scoring a total of 93 for the season. Billups rarely missed a free throw, making over 73% of his shots from the line. Offensive stats alone are only a partial measurement of the leadership he brought to the team. Billups brought a sense of confidence to the team and quickly turned into a leader on the court, both in practices and during games. This helped Billups earn the title of team captain, a title he continued to hold through the 2014 – 2015 season.
Amir, who is a second cousin of NBA star Chauncey Billups, was a promising young star who had caught the attention of teams in the NBA. Prior to the start of the 2013 – 2014 regular season Billups was one of a handful of players selected to travel to Los Angeles and participate in a NBA-Sanctioned summer pro league. In five games played he averaged 22.8 points per game, which was among the top five out of all players, and earned him all-star recognition for the tournament. His play also earned him a tryout with the Bakersfield Jam of the NBA Developmental League (D-League), as well as gained the attention of scout’s from Mexico’s LNBP, their top professional league. Billups played professionally in Mexico for one season.
Further information regarding Billups service is soon to be announced.
Premier Basketball League Adds Major Network to Media Lineup
Chicago, IL- The Premier Basketball League announced today, the beginning of a new partnership with ESPN3. The new deal will allow the PBL to reach even more fans by adding another major broadcasting partner to its impressive network lineup of live and on-demand game coverage.
ESPN3 is the official online streaming network of ESPN owned primarily by The Walt Disney Company available in North America and internationally.
“We are very excited for the opportunity to partner with the largest and most recognizable name in sports,” stated Dennis Truax, Commissioner of the PBL.
ESPN3 currently broadcasts NCAA college basketball, FIFA World Cup, the Arena Football League, NBA, WNBA, MLB and other big name leagues that now include the PBL.
The first PBL game will be televised on Saturday, December 6th at 1:00 pm when the defending champion Rochester RazorSharks host the Carolina Vipers.