SlamBall’s sixth regular season is in the books. In the final session on Sunday, the Lava grabbed the last remaining playoff spot while the Buzzsaw secured the No. 2 seed and entry into the semifinals. The Lava began the season 0-5 while dealing with an injury to first overall pick Bryce Moragne (Tampa, Fla.), but are now the league’s hottest team not named the Mob, winning four of their last five games, including both on Sunday. They slid by the Slashers, 51-45, and dispatched the Buzzsaw, 55-34. The Lava’s win over the Slashers handed the Buzzsaw a playoff bye.
“We always thought we had a good team,” said Lava stopper Faysal Shafaat (Orlando, Fla.). “Bryce (Moragne) got hurt during camp, and I got hurt during camp, so we never really got to click and get confidence going at the beginning of the season. And all our early losses were by a couple of points, so we definitely knew our time was coming. It feels good to see it all come together and be able to turn it on when we need to.”
Game 1 – Buzzsaw 47, Ozone 40
In a game that lacked style points – and points of any kind in the first half – the Buzzsaw inched closer to the No. 2 seed with a hard-fought 47-40 victory over the Ozone, who were eliminated from playoff contention. The Buzzsaw jumped out to a 19-11 halftime lead, but the Ozone would not go away quietly, pulling within one point with 13.5 seconds left on a thunderous dunk by Bryan Bell-Anderson (Sarasota, Fla.). But the Buzzsaw converted two “Break-It, Take-It” Face Offs, including one on an illegal contact call, to put the game on ice. Buzzsaw stopper Tyquan Scott (Long Beach, N.Y.) was his usual dominant self, rejecting nine shots. Ralph Bellamy (St. Louis, Mo.) had a game-high 20 points for the Buzzsaw, while Bell-Anderson chipped in 18 points for the losers.
Game 2 – Lava 51, Slashers 45
The Lava had already wrapped up a playoff berth before the start of Sunday’s middle game against the Slashers but that didn’t stop them from serving notice that they will be tough out in the next, most important phase of the season. The Lava disrupted the Slashers’ rhythm all game, winning 51-45. An alley-oop dunk by Tony Crosby II (Long Beach, Calif.) with 2:20 left cut the deficit to 42-40, but the Lava scored the next nine points to secure the victory. Faysal Shafaat shut the door on the Slashers, who were denied a chance to play for the No.2 seed in the Main Event, finishing with 11 stops. The Lava’s Josh Shannon (Louisville, Ky.) generated a team-high 20 points, while Crosby led all scorers with 23 points.
Main Event – Lava 55, Buzzsaw 34
Assured of a playoff bye, the Buzzsaw rested stopper supreme Tyquan Scott, and the surging Lava took full advantage, sailing to a 55-34 victory. The Lava led 38-21 at the intermission and hit cruise control for the rest of the contest. Jihad Shockley (Columbus, Ohio) paced the Lava with 17 points while Faysal Shafaat was credited with six stops and seven loose ball recoveries. The Buzzsaw got a team-most 17 points from Jamaal Barnes Jr. (Los Angeles, Calif.).
The field is set for the SlamBall playoffs, which will take place at Cox Pavilion in Las Vegas this Tuesday and Thursday:
SlamBall Playoff Schedule:
Tuesday, August 15 – 8:00 p.m. PT/11:00 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
Quarterfinals: No. 3 Slashers vs. No. 6 Gryphons
Quarterfinals: No. 4 Wrath vs. No. 5 Lava
Slam Dunk Contest (8 participants)
Thursday, August 17 – 8:00 p.m. PT/11:00 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Semifinals: No. 1 Mob vs. winner of quarterfinal between No. 4 Wrath and No. 5 Lava
Semifinals: No. 2 Buzzsaw vs. winner of quarterfinal between No. 3 Slashers vs. No. 6 Gryphons
SlamBall Championship Game