|NACBAIT Previews by Mike Mon|
In the Men’s Elite, I have to say that the 6 time Champion (2003, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010) Seattle Bladerunners are the unquestioned favorite. Last year, 6-2 MVP SG/SF Stephen Chang (NDNU) was an absolute matchup nightmare for teams, as he was just too strong, too quick, and too good. 6-3 swingman Wesley Hsu spent the past year playing in Iceland (Thor AK), and should be playing in Taiwan next season for the Oita Heat. Hsu’s got a killer 3-point shot and is an adept ballhandler for his size. His dribbling will become a necessary skill as Top 30 PG Austin Yuen (Seattle Pacific) is out this year due to knee surgery. Tim Wang should step right into Yuen’s spot, and provide another 3-point daggerthrower. As always, the tandem of Top 30’ers Jim Shih (6-4 C) and Kyle Kiang (6-7 F) will dominate inside. Florida State pigskinner Ben Lampkin also returns to provide hustle points off the bench. But the biggest subplot in Seattle’s quest for a 7th ring are 2 key additions from the SF Bay Area- Thomas Fang (6-5 F, Cal-Berkley, SF Wildcats) and 6-2 forward Ryan Dunn (All-NACBA, SF Duke). If all goes smoothly, it will take a miracle for someone to knock off Coach Yu’s squad.
Washington CYC A has reached too many Final Fours to count and has had three cracks at the Chip but has fallen each time. It will be tough to unseat Seattle from the throne, but they have as good a chance as anyone given their consistent performances. Athletic PF Hank Huang has an unbeatable post game and can step out to sink treys. The two headed monster of Brian Liang (All-NACBA) and Daniel Liu (UCSD, 2002 MVP) is more than adequate at the Center slot. 6-5 Stan Hwang (AZ Desert Jade) gives them even more depth against big teams. At the three, the addition of Tuan Tang (Penn State Abington, 2009 Friendship MVP) gives CYC the length they haven’t had previously. Bobby Hsieh (Catholic), and Keith Wang (Gettysburg) are moneymakers when it comes to buckets, and Top 30 brothers Chris Lee (Rutgers) and Jeffrey Lee (New Haven) are peerless. CYC has been eliminated by Seattle in 4 of the past 5 years, so the question is whether you bet with the streak or against it.
The Boston Hurricanes AAU (2004 Champs) rode the wave last year, reaching their 3rd Final Four since 2004. Though only 3 holdovers remain from that famous ’04 Championship team, the winning tradition has kept on ticking. Two sets of HAPA brothers- the Maneikises and the Redmonds- are the keys to their perimeter oriented game. Shooter Kevin Woo (All-NACBA) has been great in recent years, and veteran SF Johnson Lam makes a return to NACBA action after taking last year off. Although Mad Dog Ricky Chan probably won’t be making an appearance, newcomer Bigboy Marvin Chan is very good, and Shi Mei has always been underappreciated in the pivot. Don’t be surprised if the Canes can take the next step, as they looked very good at the Pre-NACBAIT this year. Watch out for their new “X” play- it’s going to score some easy buckets if you don’t pay attention.
The NY RL Cruisers should be right back in the hunt. Three Final Fours (2007, 2008, 2010) in the past four years is no fluke. It’s the same duet that’s going to draw the spotlight as Top 30 PF Tony Hu is unguardable in a one on one situation, and Top 18’er George Chan is a physical presence. But it’s the development of a 3rd biggie that might be the difference maker. Howie Chu has added an outside shot to his repertoire and that will make the Cruisers very dangerous. If he can step into the abyss left by Alex Stewart’s departure, it will make things a lot easier on the aging George and Tony. CB Liu (Haverford), Stan Yeung, Ian Yu, and Eddie Wang are the most underappreciated perimeter quartet of any contending team. NY has all the parts for a title- size, depth, poise, rebounding, defense, and patience. They looked great at this year’s Pre-NACBAIT Classic, going undefeated en route to the title. The Cruisers will push Seattle.
The Toronto Dragons got to the Elite Eight in 2010 and are seeking to repeat that feat but it might be tough without Chinabound 6-7 C Jon Tam. They still have experienced Denny Lee (NACBA Top 30) and his sweet turnaround jumper, but they’ll also need to rely on new pickup Daniel Tran to help down low. The add of defensive standout Matt Lum from the B team will also provide depth on the wing. But make no mistake, the strength of the Dragons will be SF Kenny Ao, SG Andrew Suen, and PG Jordan Chiang. Each of them are All-Tourney players, and without Tam, the Dragons will be a high octane, get up and go team capable of putting up big numbers and pulling off big upsets. Davis Dynasty also reached the Elite Eight in TO, but that appears almost impossible without multiplatinum PG Quentin Wu, SG Yitao Sun, and C Vince Sung, unless Stephen Tee (Holy Ghost) can jump into the phone booth and put on a red cape with a Yellow S. Gordon Peng is also going to need to step up his jack of all trades game if the Dynasty wants to go far. F Joe Tang has been a shell of his former self the past few years, but when he’s on, he’s hard to stop.
The Toronto Titans are still very tall. 6-9 James Chen and 6-7 Carlos Andrade are studs. Coach Yeung has put the Ho brothers on a strict training regimen, so expect their guard corps to be improved. All-NACBA PG Acer Huang has been shooting the ball extremely well from trifecta land and has also packed on some muscle, so the Titans will not be easy. These guys present matchup problems all over the court. If they can find some consistency then the Titans will be a force to be reckoned with. NY USAB has struggled to regain the winning form that got them to the 2004 Final Four and won them the 2007 title. But that might change this year as new coach Ivan Bozivic (17/U Serbian National Team Coach) will bring a different mentality to this richly skilled team. Nick Mui (NACBA Top 18, Staten Island), Zach Liu (All-NACBA, Pitt-Greensburg), Justin Kao (All-NACBA), Devin Figueroa (2008 Youth and 2009 Juniors MVP), and Kevin Chang (Queens College) give Bozivic weapons on the outside. The return of 6-4 PF Joe Vines (Slippery Rock) will give even more depth to an already strong frontcourt of Brandon Chock, Mike Pan, and Andrew Lichtenstein (NACBA Top 18). The Warriors have the talent to reach Monday.
NY FBNYC will once again fire up the first good look they get as relentlessly push the ball upcourt. This frantic style can wreak havoc. Ren Hsieh, Wilson Lew, and Ace Watanasuparp (UConn) are the 3 Musketeers who can all sink the three and make good decisions. The inside duties will be handle like Pau Gasol playalike Kevin Coll and Will Cheung. FBNYC is a team that you don’t want to mess around with. Markham FCCM moves up after breezing through the Men’s Open tournament last year. All-Everything combo guard Darren Liu is a man with a killer outside shot and the ability to drive to the hoop hard. Brother Daniel Liu is a PG who doesn’t make mistakes, and now that they’ve got rimshaking Ken Hsiung to man the middle, Markham is looking to throw a scare into one of the heavyweights. Fresh find Akaashi Khan will surprise folks. It will be really tough for FCCM as they’ll need to adjust to the talent jump, but never underestimate the heart of a Champion.
NY Maximum Output is back after a one year layoff. Coach Larry Chow has once again recruited one of the best lineups in North America. PG Nate Brown (All-NACBA, St Peter’s, NBDL) lives up the hype billing, Derrick Tsou can score, 6-3 Alex Stewart (All-NACBA) can do whatever it takes, Jay Wu is a monster with a feathery outside touch, and 6-8 Jeremy Ko has height on his side. C Gavin Cook, Carleton Szeto, and swingman Dave Mason will also have impacts larger than expected. MaxOut is a team that can realistically win it all.
Probably the biggest buzz this year centers around the return of Tony Wong’s 8-Time Champion LA Alpine team. NACBA living legend Benny Hoang (Cal State LA, Top 30) is back, and he will be flanked by youthful team that’s just oozing with talent. All Alpine does is win, and for the past 9 years, they’ve been plotting their return to the top. 17 year old brothers Jordan Young (2011 MVP of the Almont League) and Justin Young (First Team All-League) will play the pivot with 6-3 athleticism and passion just like Daniel Liu did way back when. LA’s patented fast break is still getting it done. The guys know which spots to run to in order to get their looks, and they’ve got 4-5 guys who can really stroke it. On defense, they swarm like killer bees in their 1-3-1, and they rebound better than you would think for an undersized squad. They’ll be led by a slew of players who made their All-League teams in their high school days, and every single player has HS Varsity experience at a minimum. Jeff Lim (LA Valley College), Jonathan Chu (2006 Almont League MVP), and James Chen (2010 San Gabriel Valley MVP) all have street cred. If Alpine doesn’t make it to Monday, it would be a shocker.
The Texas Ballistics, Chicago Dragons Wing Wor, SF Duke, SF CCU, Arizona Desert Jade, Boston Knights A and Montreal Kaitas are not taking part in this year’s event. The Toronto Kagers, Philadelphia Fastball A, NY Rockits AIA, and Philly Suns A are taking part in the Men’s Open.
Sixteen teams are registered for this year’s Men’s Open. The consensus is that there are five teams who should emerge from the pack and end up challenging for the Final Four- the NY Rockits AIA, Philly Suns A, NY Flightz, Washington CYC B, and Boston Hurricanes B. Denny Lee’s NY Rockits AIA have taken their lumps in the Elite since their last QF Finish in 2004. They have the most dynamic set of guards in the Open, with Chris Chin (Top 18, Baruch), Kenny Yu (Top 18, Rutgers Camden), Josh Pena (All-NACBA, Marywood) and sushi king Ming Wang. The Rockits will be just as small as they have been in recent years- so Tim Chin and 6-3 Kevin Chin (Cooper Union) will need to be larger than life. But NY should be there on Monday. Harry Leong’s Philly Suns A are another team who has struggled in the Elite, not having reached the Top 8 since 1998. The Open division should better suit them, as they have good players who can compete well at this level. San Mac (All-NACBA) and Rich Huynh are smooth starting guards, while Hoi Hoiberg and Danh Diep play solidly off the bench. PF Quoc Tran is relentless, and C Dave Ma (All-NACBA) can crush when he feels like it. The Final Four is very realistic for this veteran team. The NY Flightz have not put it together in the Friendship division the past two years, despite having a team with oodles of noodles. But don’t overlook Coach Yeung’s team this year. SF Jason Wu (All-NACBA), C George Tang (Top 18), and PG William Hu will be their big three. The Flightz are dangerous and at times the only team who can beat them is themselves. Their exuberance sometimes gets the best of them, but they’ve got what it takes to be a big time team. Daniel Mui, Keddy Chen, and Rick Wang will be the x-factors.
Coach Lin’s Boston Hurricanes B were poised to win this year’s Pre-NACBAIT Classic, but they ran out of juice in the last game. At the Nationals, they won’t need to play 5 games in one day to emerge victorious, so they’re going to be one of the favorites. Top 30 man Sammy Moy, Goose Lam, and Desmond Lui provide leadership, while Sam Higgins and David Ninh are up and coming contributors. Kevin Chan is pretty big, Alan Yu still has some spin moves in the old legs, and the Canes are a contender. Washington CYC B was not good in 2010. After a great 2009 Elite division run where they competed well with everyone they faced, they were one of the money bets to take the 2K10 Open trophy. But they just couldn’t hit shots when they needed points. This year, pointman Kevin Lee (Top 18), swingman Ricky Choi (All-NACBA), and Caleb Lui (All-NACBA) have been going hard at practice with the hopes of making a name for themselves. CYC B has added vets 2e Chin (Montgomery College) and Little Jeff Yu, both formerly of the A team to give them some bench pop. New pickup Jason Deja is a versatile 6-0 PF with a nice touch and the ability to roll hard to the rack. He will help C Thierri Callier battle off the brutes.
Toronto Kagers will be without their perennial All-NACBA pick and leading scorer Eric Liao, so Kevin Truong, Dennis Kim, and Powder Palmer will need to have great weekends. NY Crossbearers A will once again look to forwards James Li and Mike Chan to lead them to the promised land. This duo is as good as any 1-2 punch in the division. The team has been playing much more physically on the defensive end, and they’ve generally been on the positive side of the rebounding spectrum. If the rest of the guys can continue to knock down wing 3’s then the Crossbearers might be 2011’s Cinderella. They are expecting to go far. The rookie Team Texas could compete in the Elite division just based solely on talent, but they’ll be aspiring to take the Open crown this weekend. They’ve got speedy brothers Travis Chun and Davis Chun in the backcourt, and they also have some veteran NACBA experience and skill with SG Rudy Lim, SF Ronald Lim (All-NACBA) and PF Kiet Huynh of the absent Texas Ballistics. This team has footspeed and talent, so do not overlook them as Texas could be bracket buster.
Philadelphia Fastball A is not expected to contend, due to the absence of too many key players and a weak bench. But they do have a bit of talent in PG Moses Ma (Grace University, All-NACBA), SF Tang Vu (NACBA Top 18), SF Bin Woo (NACBA Top 18), PG Yit Lee (All-NACBA), and C Loc Tang (All-NACBA, Papa John’s NACBA 3-Point Champ). The Philly Suns B have experienced a lot of player turnover, but they are hoping for the ball to bounce their way with F Alan Ngo (All-NACBA) and G Wayne Fung leading the way. Long armed Kellen Ngo can shoot if he’s left open, and he’s one of the better defensive players in the Open. The Suns B have the ability to keep it close and might pull off an upset or two. The NY Runnin Rebels look like a boyband but don’t take their suave style to mean they can’t play hoops. They will score points. Tommy Zheng is a well known commodity, Eden Chuang has game, and Sean Zhang is a force. If the Rebels play like we all know they can, then they’ll make noise. It’s simply going to be a matter of whether they can make pivotal stops in the post as they’re not chock full of ogres.
The Toronto Sliders win games. They shoot threes even though you know that’s what you need to stop. Reigning Friendship MVP Dalton Mak has swagger and a mean pullup. The Sliders are going to be a little bit small on the pivot, but they have nothing left to prove in the Friendship division, having won it twice already (2008/2010). So now it’s sink or swim time. The NY USAB Warriors B team is unpredictable. They’ve got some size. 6-3 Osman Ip (Baruch), 6-2 Tom Chu (All-NACBA), and 6-2 Kevin Quach have the length and the massivity to have their way inside. Quach can even walk out to pop 3’s. PG Joe Chin (All-NACBA, Baruch) is a baller and shotcaller. Chi Ming Pun (Gallaudet) plays a lot better than you would expect. This team has a lot of College level players, but they underwhelmed us last year, despite many predicting that they would go all the way. The Warriors B have been playing together for many years, so chemistry should not be an Achilles. I’m going to go out on a limb and make USAB a Final Four team as I believe they will put it together, and hopefully their lack of depth doesn’t burn them. The field will be rounded out by the Boston Knights B, Toronto Raiders, and the Toronto Dragons B.
With 16 teams of varying competitiveness in the Friendship, it’s going to be one wild weekend in Boston. The bracket pairings are going to have as much to do with the end results as anything else. The NY Rockits have always fielded very strong friendship level teams, dating back to their 2003 and 2006 Championship teams. The Rockits U are one of the favorites to take the trophy back to the Big Apple, as 36 year old Tony Wong makes a comeback to play against guys half his age. Sidekicks like Cheuk Wong and Patrick Lee will be pivotal if the U wants to win. Philadelphia Fastball B captured this year’s Pre-NACBAIT Classic in undefeated fashion, and look to be a dangerous team. But then again they did the exact same thing last year and then went winless at the Toronto NACBAIT as they couldn’t handle the brighter lights of the big dance. Pre-NACBAIT Classic MVP Tommy Le (All-NACBA), PG Stephen Lok, 5-8 G Jimmie Poeng (2010 All-NACBA), and 5-11 C Khang Tang will be their weapons.
NY United East finished second in the Men’s Open last year, so they’re hoping that the step down to the Friendship division will give them the title they have never won. UE should be able to accomplish that task, based on talent alone. PF Leighton Kuet is as good as it gets, Steve Liu is a crafty veteran with old man strength, while Robert Chin & Owen Wang form the best pointguard platoon in NYC. If UE doesn’t win it all, it’ll be news. Montreal MMAC Mars will once again feature the hardnosed Andy Chen as their leading scorer. Chen is practically unstoppable against players half a foot taller, but he’ll need his teammates to pick up the pace and get some easy deuces in transition.
Tom Law’s NY Falcons Red are overflowing with great players. F Henry Lam is extra awesome, 6-1 Eldwin Qiu can do a lot of things well, Marco So is strong, and PG Jerrett Lee is an unsung hero. They’re definitely Final Four bound. Paul Gong’s NY Tigers keep getting better every time they take the floor. They have been traveling the circuit on the East Coast a couple of years now, so they’re not an unknown commodity. G Gary Louie and C Steven Lin will do the lion’s share of the work. The Tigers are a versatile team with interchangeable parts. The Indiana Pandas have been competing in Midwestern tournaments, but who knows what their first taste of NACBAIT competition will be like. Jackie Zou and Robbie Huang will be the primaries for this speedy squad of shooters. Eric Su and Chenfei Wang are competent defenders on the perimeter, and Xiao Chen is a high flyer. With a couple of 6-3 guys, Indiana will be the tallest team in the Friendship. Look for Indiana to make a Hoosiers style run to the Final Four and possibly beyond.
New York FBNYC B will be paced by John Hsu and Rich Chin. Rich can rebound very well for his 6-1 frame, while John is a well known player in the tourney thanks to his tremendous sportsmanship and scoring ability. Fastbreak should get some wins. The NY Falcons White aren’t expected to push for more than the Consolation Round, but with Horace Qiu, Steve Meng, and Chi Ho Chung in the picture, they might garner some big W’s. The NY Crossbearers B will have former USAB standout Leslie Yeung running the show. Kevin King can finish at the rim, and Homon Chen has poise. This team will be young, but they’ll also be in contention. The Boston Freemasons have veteran volleyballers like Norm Eng and Johnny Ching, so it’s not a question of athleticism here. The Masons will need to figure out ways to match up against teams they haven’t faced in awhile, as they haven’t played since the 2006 NACBAIT. Rookie teams include the LA Anchormen, Boston Commitment, Boston Knights Red, Boston Knights Gold, and Boston Knights Blue.
Boys Youth 15 & Under
This year, 7 teams will take stage in our youngest division. Each year, some of the tourney’s most eye opening plays from the Youth division, as onlookers are amazed that kids so young can play so well. We begin with last year’s second place team, the NY USAB Youth. Look for this team to take a markedly different approach from a typical USAB fullcourt team, as the addition of 6-2, 210 pound Jack Wong will make this team tough in the halfcourt. Wong is a bit raw, but his sheer size will make him a matchup problem. William Loo should be the major beneficiary of the Wong add, as he will get good looks at the other postup. 2010 All-NACBA swingman De Young Don has hoops in his genetic makeup as his pops Anthony Don was an old Rockits mainstay. Other players who will contribute here include Andrew Ng, PJ Cheung, and Anthony Chang. All three of these youngbloods are younger siblings of USAB program mainstays so they know what it takes to win. While the USAB Youth team should be solid, the USAB Biddy team is going to be taking their lumps in 2011. With a plethora of 8th graders, they’re just building for next year. 6-1 Kevin Yieh has potential, and 5-10, 170 pound Justin Wong will be a hustle guy. Harry Leong’s Philly Young Suns may still be one or two years away from contending, but that’s not going to stop them from competing with all their might. Justin Lai, Matthew Chin, and Kody Leong are ten years old Mini-Me’s but they have a bright future in front of them. These lil guys will handle the perimeter duties while super talented Eric Yang, monsterman Timmothy Mak, Vietnam Restaurant prince Jon Lai, and underrated Steven Wu do it in the paint. This quartet gives Philly some size to bang with. With Han Lan Huang (2010 All-NACBA) defending and running at the 3 spot, the Young Suns could pull off a shocker.
The Toronto CCYAA Youth always comes to play for the Chip. Cody Lee plays like a polished big at the Nationals, and Alex Wang has some size too. There are a slew of guards and wings, but the best of the bunch could be Brian Tang. If they hit their stride, a repeat of their 2009 run isn’t impossible. The NY Junior Rockits have been up and down all season suffering through a poor finish at the Pre-NACBAIT but winning quite a few other tournaments. Either way, this is definitely one team that you do not want to see sitting on the opposite bench. They’re super dangerous, well-rounded, and play with a fire in the belly. When they’re riding the momentum, they are unbeatable. Lefty G Jimmy Ng is the guy to watch for on this team, as he is indisputably the top player in the division. The Rockits are our pick to take it back to the Big Apple. The remaining teams in the division will include the NY Titans and Boston Knights Youth.
Boys Juniors 18 & Under
Last year’s Championship game between NY USAB and Toronto CCYAA was one of the best ever, with Henry Tan and Devin Figueroa going at each other like Magic v Bird. Although this year’s field of teams might not be as strong as it has traditionally been, that doesn’t mean we aren’t expecting supreme intensity. The Juniors division is typically played at a million miles an hour (1,609.344 km/hr for the Canadians), so don’t anticipate anything different in 2011. Last year’s Champions, Toronto CCYAA Junior, are going to be missing a whole slew of talented players as many of them will be competing in another event this weekend. Chris Chong, Derek Hui, and Preston Lam will be the best options for Coach Fong. Former All-NACBA PG Daniel Ng will be coaching the NY USAB 18’s. He has shown a remarkable ability to roll up his sleeves and get to work in the tournaments I have seen him coach. His deep knowledge of the game, and his multiple NACBA Junior Championships give him instant credibility. But it’s not like Ng is going to have to do it all on his own. He’s got talented kids like Kevin Cai, Jeff Chan, and Thomas Cui on the perimeter, and big men like 6-2 Russell Huang and 6-0 Brian Lichtenstein inside. 6-2 rookie Matt Xie was a pleasant surprise as he led them to the Pre-NACBAIT Classic championship. USAB has a good chance to get back to the top, after they had their 5 year run of titles snapped last year.
Coach Mike Mei’s NY Young Life Rockits are the team that everyone is talking about with hushed reservation. Skill wise, Kyle Lew, Michael Pang, Raymond Fung, and Kenny Yu are great players. Derek Kwong and Eddie Zheng give the YL’ers the best twin towers combo in the Juniors. But the team has been seemingly stuck in a funk all year long. Given their tremendous talent, the Rockits should be a no brainer for the Juniors. But they haven’t put their best foot forward in recent months, often appearing tentative. If Mei can get the boys to play with passion for the whole weekend, then the sky’s the limit. Otherwise, it’s going to be another year like the past 4-5. The Toronto Raiders 18 could be the team wearing the glass slipper in 2011. G Karl Wang and C Tony Nguyen are like young versions of Stockton and Malone. Wang is a terrific fearless penetrator, and Nguyen rules the paint. The other kids on the team fill roles, and the Raiders are more athletic than you know. Do not look past this team. The Boston Knights 18 are the team that no one knows much about, but I’m predicting that they’ve got Final Four potential. Everyone knows they have a 6-6 center, but as teams start to double down, shooters like William Mei and Raymond Yang are going to make defenses pay 3 points each time they go into double coverage. 6-3 SG/SF Korey Mui is a well kept secret, but this is going to be his breakout year. The Knights are guard oriented and can handle the press, so they could be tough if they hit their stride.
Howard Chin’s NY CASE Cougars will look to Elvin Fung to lead them to some wins. The Cougars have taken a step in the right direction as of late, reaching the Semifinals of a competitive New Jersey event. The Philly Rising Suns have been under Coach Philip Wan’s direction for a few years now. They’re getting better and are looking to get that elusive first marquee win. Wan has been focused and is putting them through tough practices to prepare them for the challenge that awaits. Thang Van is a hustler, while Jordan Ly is their best player. Watch for Philip’s Sons to hopefully come out ahead. Coach Chan’s NY United East 18’s have a new gameplan, with William Yu and Antonio Cuadrado looking to play big parts in the turnaround. The Chicago Dragons look to rebound from a down year where injuries slowed them down. Michael Wu and Anthony Huang will try to replace leading scorer William Ng in the pivot. But the Dragons will really be relying on their guard to play to lead them, as Anthony Chan, Jimmy Wu, and the Hsiung bros will be crucial. Wilson He will give them a little bit of bounce to their step. Montreal MMAC will also be back to compete this year.
Men’s Masters 45 & Over
This year, 8 teams have registered for the most experienced of all divisions. In 2010, Paul Gong’s NY Fishmen won their second Masters Championship. They’re back with SG Ramon Wong, scorer David Wong, and big Ken Chan. Peter Ng and John Leung should also be able to help round out the team. However, the Fishmen have lost MVP Denny Lee (NACBA Top 30) to the NY Legends. The Legends (2002 Seniors Finalists), look like they could be the team to beat this year as Lee will team up with living legend Beaver Ho (Top 30) to give the team abundant options. These two might not even be the leading scorers, as 6-4 Brad Liu is a machine. Anthony Don will give the legends a boost near the hoop. The NY Thunder came in second last year, as All-NACBAIT picks David Chan and John Tsang led them to a deep run. Kit Chan has his team looking for another solid showing.
The Chicago Dragons Masters are composed of the original Wing Wor guys that put Chicago on the map. This is a deep team as they will have second city legends Chicken Chan, Jimmy “the swan” Chin, Tony Fong, Robert Choy (All-Universe), and shooter Doug Woo to put them in prime position for the title. Coach Brenmark has the guys ready for a big weekend. Another team of old Wing Wor guys, the Boston Hurricanes Masters, will also be making a push for Monday’s big game. Harry Aue will provide the leadership, while James Der should be the featured guy here. Der was a big time scorer in his day, and remains one of the most gifted players I have ever seen. The Toronto CCYAA Masters will be paced by 6-4 F Alex Chen (All-NACBA). Chen will get support from Eddy Cheung, Al Kung, and Terrence Leung. The hometown Knights should contend, and Team Texas will be making a rare appearance as well.
Men’s Senior 35 & Over
There will only be four teams in this year’s Seniors division, but it will be competitive. We have to begin with the 6-time Champion Toronto CCYAA Seniors. I’ll be the first to take a big risk and say they’re the favorites again. Richard Zhu (Top 30) has been the MVP almost every year because he’s that good. Zhu shoots, rebounds, passes, defends, and he’s a kindhearted guy. 6-3 Jeff Fong will play when he’s not busy coaching the Juniors, and he adds a 3-point shooting big man weapon. Stan Ong plays sweet music, Carlton Tenn can do just about everything, and David Kuo is still speedy. This team is very solid. Montreal MMAC is entering a Seniors team, and although they are without Arthur Hong, Richard Chin and Casey Wu will run the show. The Boston Knights Seniors will be one of the younger teams in the Seniors division. Rob Yee and Dave Yee are athletes, Samson Lee is a high flyer, and Rich Szeto can score buckets. The Boston Warlords always play when the tournament comes around to Beantown. Gary Wong and Henry Wong play big, while Joe Yen is a better than you would think at first glance. Joe takes good shots, and he’s as strong as a bull. The Warlords can hit the trey, so if the Boston Three Party gets going, they’ll be a tough opponent.
This year, an octopus of teams will be playing in the Liberty. We start with the NY Sabres Black. The Blacks took the Liberty tiara in 2006 Boston against all odds, and after quite a few winless years in the Open, they’re back in the Liberty seeking redemption. With Katherine Chen, Maisie Wong, Sabrina Cheng, and DJ Liu, this team probably has the most talent in the division. Coach Lew is a motivator, and he gets the most out of his girls, so expect the Sabres end up in the winner’s circle. The Washington CYC China Dolls are missing way too many players to be competitive in the Open division, so they’ll be in the Liberty. Pui Sham, Kalyn Lee, Sunny Chang, and Shannon Briggs are all missing in 2011. Look for El Birman and Kayly Ober to take care of the ball, while Ling Lai and Kristy Tung should be the top scorers. There still may be enough here for a shot at a title, but it looks like they’re just biding their time till next year. The NY Force is also a team that could have been pretty solid, but Nicole Lem (2011 Pre-NACBAIT Classic MVP) and Cadie Chu will not be suiting up. Joyce Li (CCNY), Emily Jiang, and Kim Hom will be the focal points. Force will be shorthanded, but they’ll play ball. NY/Toronto PB&J is a combo team from the Big Apple and the T-Dot. Look for hardworking Doublemint twins Carol & Karen Yu to be the stars.
Watch for Coach Diep’s Philly Lady Suns to play a physical 3-2 zone on defense, and for rookie PG Emily Chen to give it her 110%. Chen is good enough to play at a higher level, and Taylor Lee (All-NACBA) has a pretty well rounded inside/out game as she can post up or hit 3’s from the wing. Michelle Phan rebounds, and former All-NACBA player Yin Ly is making a comeback. The NY Sabres Green are really young, as Michelle Li and Kayla Chan have potential. The Toronto CCYAA Thunder will once again need Jocelin On (All-NACBA) and Tara Mann to take over for Coach Wiltshire’s shortrostered squad. Carrie Leung must play big and play well. The NY Lady Rockits White will be making their first appearance at the Nationals. Helen Lue will be the experienced glue to hold them together, while Kristen Lew and Terri Chu should do the majority of the work.
This year, five teams have entered the madness of the Women’s Open division. A couple of the teams will be very shorthanded, so the name of the game is definitely going to be TEMPO. If the deeper teams can keep the pressure on all weekend long, then we could have some major upsets. We begin with last year’s Champs, the Toronto Black Dragons. The Black Dragons will be missing C Gillian Maxwell and stringbean F Viola Cheung, but the fact that they’ve got more than ten ladies should provide enough other options. The backcourt of Angie Leung (NACBA Top 30) and Rachel Niven (OCAA Player of the Year, SAIT, All-NACBA) is second to none. Forwards Lee Anne Chong and Kimberly Lee (CCAA Player of the Year, 2010 Women’s Open MVP, 2008 Liberty MVP) can swish from anywhere on the court, while center Emily Wang will be making the voyage from LA to play with her homegirls. PG Ann Pastrana (George Brown) and SG/SF Niveal Pastrana (George Brown) would be stars on any other teams. With unselfish F Danby Wong filling in, the Black Dragons are a solid choice to repeat. The SF ArcAngels (2002, 2008, 2009 Champs) will be without their leader, former All-NACBAIT F Irene Wong, and they will be appearing with only 7-8 players. They’ll also be without the incomparable Lulue Burton. However don’t count them out as triple threat G’s Shorty Ty and Jen Sze are capable of filling the peach basket at any time. The Tiao sisters’ prowess is well documented, and they complement each other very well. Melanie Wong is a defensive fiend, and Heather Lee can play a variety of positions for this team. The ArcAngels have reached the finals the past 3 years, so for them to make it 4 in a row is not out of the question. LA Aiya won the tournament 10 years ago in their first trip to Boston. But they’re going to be hurting a decade later, as the Welsh sisters and sweetbaby Shaq won’t be coming this year. Another big loss will be supreme Coach Carol Jue (Chapman U). However, the add of NACBA Top 10’er Cecilia Chan from CCYAA should pay dividends if she can make the trip from Hong Kong (where she is playing pro ball). Aiya has been practicing hard the past couple of months, and if they figure out a defensive scheme to combat their height deficiency, then they’ll be just fine. Otherwise, Los Angeles will need Sidney Giang and Jessica Liang to be lights out, Debbie Young to overcome the injury bug, and Sabrina Yap to play like she did in her prime.
Toronto CCYAA ran the table the last time the tournament came to Boston, so they’re looking for lady luck to be on their side once more. The loss of Cecilia Chan smarts in more ways than one, but the deep roster should be able to compensate. Janice Lui (George Brown) is a smooth operator and often flies under the radar while running mate Christine Vuong (All-NACBA, GVSU) garners more attention. Lui should be the x-factor as she steps into CC’s void. The Cheng twins, Elspeth and Fiona are quite a dandy set while Jessica Lanois and Lisa Chu are more than versatile enough to do whatever else CCYAA needs. CCYAA should be pretty tough. The NY Lady Rockits are one of the deepest team as they are looking to field to a full roster. Coach Kevin Low (NYU, Top 30) has been working his butt off to get his ladies prepared to face this level of competition. F Diane Wong (Hunter, All-NACBA) comes to work with a lunchpail, Tracy Ng (All-NACBA) is probably the strongest post player in the division, Joanna Lau has a bunch of kids and a lot of versatility, Yu Wei Lin (All-NACBA) has a scorer’s mentality, and PG Patricia Tiu is a vibrant youngster with tons of energy. Ex Sabres Aileen Tso, Vanessa Leung, and Serena Poon can all hang, so if the Rockits get the right draw and can keep everyone fresh heading into the playoffs, then they might be the weekend’s surprise.