Day 3 would begin much the same Days 1 and 2 started with rain. And despite three days of less than desirable weather, the campers were still as enthusiastic as when they first arrived to camp. Several coaches have already pointed out the tremendous energy and effort levels of the campers despite the long days where each camper received extensive reps and had to battle the elements. Head Coach, Kevin Pigott was impressed with how intense the campers were heading into Day 3 and after their morning set of games.
The morning featured an overtime affair between the undefeated Heat and the Lakers who have a talented roster but have suffered some tough losses in the past 24 hours. Dylan Painter put up his usually impressive numbers but it was also guards Alvaro Marcos and Jared Lenoir who led the way with their tenacious defense and scoring. Marcos drained five 3’s and Lenoir finished strong in the lane with an array of floaters, runners and teardrops. They also received a strong performance from Matt Dinacci (WC Henderson High) who helped them build an early lead. The Lakers proved every bit that they can contend for the title later in the day behind the razzle-dazzle play of PG Xavier Aguilar (Spain) and guards Andrew Steinhardt (WHRHS, New Jersey) and Ignacio Garcia (Spain). But if Robert Martinez (Spain) can play the way he played in this game (20pts) going up primarily against the much bigger Painter, the Lakers will surprise and turn some heads. Ignacio Garcia of the Heat stated after the game “we will play better next time we see them and win.”
In another close game, the Pacers put their undefeated record up against the Nets. When the dusk settled, the Pacers remained undefeated, squeaking out a tough-fought game in which they won 76-72 behind Pablo Hernandez. The Nets, behind the strong efforts of Malik Smith (St. Raymond’s, NY) and Jake DeLong, put up a valiant effort but came up just short. Coach Kevin Pigott who refereed the game says afterwards “it was an exciting game that featured the type of competition Five-Star basketball has always been about.”
In the opening round of the playoffs, six teams made it with the top two teams, the Pacers (No.1 Seed) and the Kings (No.2 Seed) getting byes for their respective undefeated records.
In the wildcard match-up, the Heat and the Lakers met up again. This time the Lakers turned it up another notch and turned the table on the Heat winning the game 63-56. Despite limping into the playoffs having lost two in a row, the Heat players were determined to make a deep playoff run. And win they did, following up Ignacio Garcia’s bold proclamation from earlier in the day.
In the other wildcard match-up, Carlos Bueno of the Nets led the charge and help his scrappy team to a solid victory over the Spurs. The Nets took an early lead and never looked back winning the game by a healthy margin, 64-50.
The semi-finals featured the Lakers vs. Kings and Nets vs. Pacers. There was a lot of anticipation leading up to the game and lived up to the hype. The intensity on the court was palpable with the game tight throughout. The teams would trade runs late going into the final two minutes. With just one minute remaining, the Nets took a three-point lead and would hold on to win the game by a final score of 70-69. The Pacers’ Pablo Hernandez had an opportunity to win the game off a final second out of bounds lob play, but his shot rimmed out, sending the Nets into the Finals where they will take on the Lakers, who have gotten stronger with each game this camp. Led by the unselfish play of Xavier Aguilar, the Lakers would start strong and finish that way en route to a 68-58. The teams will compete in the finals tomorrow at 10am at the Mattioli Recreation Center.
The evening concluded with the Five-Star Orange and White Classic All-Star game, and this one was an international affair with the White All Stars all from Spain and the Orange All Stars all from North America. The game was definitely exciting and captivating with each side have a nice crowd behind them throughout the game. Many predicted a convincing win for the Spanish All-Stars but the difference in the game never went above 8 in either direction. In the end, the Spanish team would prevail and win by a final score of 78-72. The MVP? For those of you reading, you probably could have guessed this one: Pablo Hernandez who finished with an incredible stat line of 17pts, 8 rebs, 6 asts, 3 blks, 2 stls.