After six heated games between the Robellion and the Globe TRONers it all comes down to this. If you haven't caught up to the craziness of those games, I implore you to go read through those recaps and see how we ended up at a Game 7. What started as a test series to help us figure out the best format for tournaments and playoffs had turned into a pivotal moment in the Swoops Universe.
Though this was posed as an "unofficial" series, not reflected in win totals or etched into the stone tablets of Championship Hall, nothing about it felt unofficial now. These two teams weren't just playing for bragging rights anymore, as they now had the chance to be forever remembered by not just the owners and fans who have been here since the beginning, but those in the future who will look back through the annals of Swoops history and see this series on page one.
Who will reign supreme?
The teams were angry that day, my friends - like Russell Westbrook being asked a reasonable question after a bad loss. We got about five seconds into the game and suddenly, on a Luka Skywalker drive, Hakeem Olajuwon appeared in front of the rim. I tell you, he was ten hoops high if he was a foot. As if sensing Luka's intentions, he let out an audio driver destroying yell. Doge said, "Easy, big fella!", and then, as we watched the oncoming Skywalker, we realized that Olajutron was obstructing his path. From where he was standing, there was no hope of Luka making a shot.
Just then, from out of nowhere, a huge screen was set on Hakeem, but Chuckbacca was tossed aside like a battle droid in the first ten frames of an action scene. Luka found himself face to face with Olajutron. He could barely see the rim from the outstretched arms of the Globe TRONer big man, but he knew the basket was there. So he took a stride to the side, stepped around, pulled up for a push shot and then...
The Robellion forward was sent to the floor as if he were a pair of warmups, casually cast aside for some ball boy to have to collect and bring back to the bench.
Luka lifted himself up off the court and headed to the line, dented but not deleted, and fought through the bruises to split the pair.
Pulling the rebound down off the missed free throw was Doge McDermott, he hurried the ball up the court to Rajon Trondo who burst to the hoop for an easy two before the Robellion defense could get back. Both teams had scored in the first sixteen seconds, and as the Robellion looked to counter-attack in transition, everyone could see this wasn't the first quarter cold war we were used to. This was hellfire on the hardwood.
Jabar the Hutt had stayed back around the quarter-court mark after Trondo's fast break and caught a pass on a y-route at the top of the key, but Chris Webbrowser in his free safety role came in and dislodged the ball for the interception. The Globe TRONers moved it back down the court and got it to their own big man in Olajuwon, but once again Sith Curry came in to double and forced a fumble. A scramble for the ball ensued and Chuckbacca came up with it.
The Robellion's wildcard big man thumped down the court, dribbles so high they nearly reached to his head, and exploded to the rim for the dunk. A trailing Webbrowser nearly got his pointer on it, but scrolled a little too quick and clicked Chuckbacca's head on the block attempt. Some words were had between the two, or what I assume were words coming from Chuckbacca, and he converted on the and-1.
The tone had been set.
Doge McDermott brought the ball up, entried the ball to Hakeem, and peeled around a solidly set Droidmon Green screen where Olajutron found him for a pretty 18 foot jumper.
The next possession, Kobe Wan Kenobi called a play for the Robellion which led to his own jumper off an Iverson cut.
Knowing Kenobi's shot was going in, Doge barked for the ball on the inbounds and was already halfway down the court by the time it sailed in to his hands. Three dribbles later and Doge dunked it home.
Kobe, none too happy with the Robellion transition defense, came to receive the long inbounds pass and dribbled into a pull-up three from way downtown. Nothing but net.
The two leading scorers for their teams and in this series were getting to work early and often, both signaling that if they were going to go down, they were going to do so firing the full clip.
Rajon Trondo wanted to start working the pick-and-roll with Webbrowser after seeing how effective it was for the Globe TRONers early on in Game 6.
Webbrowser came to set a high screen and gummed up Kenobi as he tried to fight over it. Trondo found a nice lane to the bucket after the two defenders were stuck with Webbrowser, but Kenobi broke free of the congestion and got a Manu-ian block on Trondo's jumper.
Luka Skywalker pulled the ball in and got it up the floor quick for a picture perfect three man weave with Chuckbacca and Kenobi, resulting in an easy two for break-starter.
After a good look that was just barely missed from 14 feet out by Hakeem, he grabbed his own rebound, sent it out to Doge who also missed on a three pointer by just a hair. Jabar the Hutt got the board, Sith Curry met him for the ball, then pushed it up the court to Luka who got another easy two to go down.
In a series where Skywalker has seriously struggled to score in the half court, these easy transition buckets he's getting are critically important for the Robellion, who could have been at the Mos Eisley cantina celebrating a dominant series win had Skywalker been able to have even a few decent scoring games.
With the score at 11-6 in the Robellion's favor, the Globe TRONers were not panicked and went right back to the Trondo-Webbrowser PNR actions. This time, Trondo dumped the ball to Webbrowser and waited a beat for Kenobi to turn his attention to the big man for a potential double, which gave Trondo the chance to cut to the basket where Webbrowser found him in stride for the lay-up.
When the Globe TRONers were able to set up in their half-court defense, they were rock solid in their executions. A probing Kenobi found no opportunities and got fouled on the floor by Olajuwon, who seemed to be alerting the entire Robellion team that if anyone comes in the paint they're going to get touched up. Skywalker, still a big sore from the first play of the game, declined to take it in the paint on the TRONers center and settled for a well-contested three.
The long rebound came out to Droidmon Green who fed it down to a streaking Webbrowser for an emphatic jam.
Rajon Trondo had run down with Webbrowser and picked up Kenobi as the TRONers called for a full court press. Partly to try and tire out the Robellion a bit after all this transition offense so far, and partly to get the ball out of Kenobi's hands and not let him get in a zone. Trondo's quick hands were able to force Kenobi to turn the ball over and he quickly found Hakeem in the corner who had been challenging the inbounder just before that, but he undershot it and it just barely kissed the rim before falling to Jabar's feet.
Jabar snagged it and quickly got it to Sith Curry who was able to push the ball up and attack the TRONers unset defense off their press and find himself a wide open three. He took a single drible, set, shot, but it tap danced off the rim. No good.
Trondo came to get the ball and the Globe TRONers were right back at it.
Webbrowser came up to to set the screen, Kenobi went under it this time anticipating the drive or cut, but Trondo smartly pulled it back out and sank an undefended three to tie things up 13-a-piece.
The Robellion got a bit more aggressive on their next play, sensing that they were being a bit over cautious in the half-court and that it was playing into the TRONer's strengths defensively. An outstandingly athletic drive from Kenobi was met with a stone wall at the rim, but Chuckbacca was waiting in the dunkers spot for the dump off which Kobe delivered and McDermott took the hard foul to put Chuckbacca to the line where he made one of two.
As with many of the things I've been coding, the TRONers were taking the timeless approach of, "If it's not broke, don't fix it." Webbrowser and Hakeem set a nice Spain PNR for Trondo to work with, and after Olajutron broke free to the hoop and Kenobi followed to take away the easiest option, Trondo stepped back and drilled another three. Playoff Trondo may not have shown up much in the prior games, but Game 7 Trondo is real and he's spectacular.
The next trip down for the Robellion, they were able to get it into Jabar who caught a hard foul and went to the line for two to tie the game back up. Jabar gave Skywalker a confident nod as if to say, "Let's go, keep getting it to me, take no prisoners." Besides the prisoners that Jabar the Hutt had already taken, I suppose.
The Robellion had Kenobi face guarding Trondo to cut the connection and force the TRONers to run something else, which ended up being the same actions with Doge as the primary ball handler, and resulted in a nice Webbrowser floater as McDermott slipped the ball inside on the roll.
Curry would miss on the other end, Green would snag the board and get it to Trondo but the aggressive Kenobi defense would force a steal. Kenobi would fire a no-look pass down to Jabar who blew an easy bucket at the rim, Kenobi would sky in for the rebound, but Olajutron would make good on his promise to obliterate everything in the lane and smacked the ball free from Kenobi and into the hands of McDermott. McDermott would try to push the ball up quickly to take advantage of Jabar being under his own hoop, but would lose focus and dribble off the side of his foot. That would end up right back into the hands of Jabar who quickly put it in for two with just under three minutes to go.
The game had been electric so far. The tension was palpable. The air was getting thick.
Was it all of us crammed in a small room watching this? Did a fan short on our simulation PC? Or was it the Globe TRONers about to reawaken the the storm that had closed the ports to the Robellion at the end of last game?
Rajon Trondo wasn't so much riding a wave this game, but controlling it, manipulating it's course in whichever way he wanted. This was the most anticipated game in Swoops History to date and the TRONer's pass first point guard was in the middle of it, surfing the lane like it was Nazaré. He popped out of the barrel for an 18 footer as Chuckbacca crashed down on him, effortlessly gliding to the line to convert on the and-1.
The next possession Jabar the Hutt would have a lay-in but Droidmon Green flew in on a gale force wind and swatted the ball back, the momentum carrying him down the court for a thunderous dunk on the other end.
The Robellion were doing their best to go with the current and Sith Curry popped in a little five footer, but receeding water, much like leads, may be a warning sign of a tsunami.
On the horizon was Doge McDermott, who despite being guarded tightly by the wave-breaking Robellion defense, ignored the barriers put up to obstruct his shot and flooded in a three pointer plus the foul.
The Robellion were fighting back as hard as they could, making every other shot they took, but the Globe TRONers were in a supernatural zone once again and in a matter of two minutes pulled out to a 10 point lead by the end of the first quarter.
However unlike last game, this one isn't over. Rough seas don't last forever and the Robellion knew that they had the time to ride this out, counter when the TRONer energy comes down, and mount their own attack.
To start the second quarter McDermott launched a three that went wide, and Chuckbacca was able to run down to grab a two for the Robellion. Webbrowser missed a two the next trip for the TRONers, and Chuckbacca was again able to grab the rebound and go coast-to-coast for the easy bucket. A missed three from Green, a three from Curry, a missed three from Hakeem, and the game was back within three for the Robellion as the TRONers had lost the wind behind their sails and stalled out.
When you're in that position you have two options. Sit and wait for better weather, or get the oars out and start paddling. This was not a game where you could wait if there was any other option, and the TRONers got to paddling.
Tough buckets were made by Green and Hakeem down low after a grinded out possession, a three from McDermott, and another physical battle of positioning from Olajutron for a trip to the line. After Doge sank his teeth into the ball and battled through contact, with no foul called, the Globe TRONers got their lead back to eight with four minutes left to go and grabbed a bit of momentum on the calm waters of the second quarter.
The Robellion weren't facing the same speed, the same power, the same explosion that they had just fought through to end the first. Still, the relentlessness of the TRONers hadn't gone anywhere.
Curry and Skywalker had decent looks at three, but the Globe TRONers were able to just contest enough to force the miss. Trondo seemed to be gassed and was no longer effectively running their offense, but Doge looked like he had enough in the tank to play a back-to-back and took control of the game, pouring in ten points in the final two minutes of the second, which could have been thirteen had his heave at the buzzer not hit the back iron.
What was a 10 point lead at the end of the first was an 11 point lead heading into the half, and the Globe TRONers seemed to be in complete control of this game. Fighting back and pushing their lead after every Robellion counter.
The third quarter picked up exactly where the half ended. The Robellion ran a play to get Chuckbacca going inside, get some contact, muddy things up, but McDermott poked the ball free of his giant paws and found an easy two on the other end.
The two teams traded buckets, but after an offensive foul on an increasingly desperate Chuckbacca, Doge would sink a lay-up, steal the ball from Jabar the Hutt on defense, and the Globe TRONers found Droidmon Green for three--pushing the lead to 17 with 6 minutes to play in the third and Game 7 was in danger of becoming a blowout.
This entire series, no matter what the situation, the Robellion had rarely shown signs of worry, desperation, or a willingness to give in. Frantic perhaps, unorganized occasionally, but always able to regroup and come together in an effort to play things out. They weren't going to abandon that now.
In an effort to revive tried and true strategy of forcing the game to slow down and get to the line, the next eight offensive possessions for the Robellion resulted in a basket, two or more fouls, or free throws. So while their defense was still struggling to totally contain the Globe TRONers (especially Doge who had crossed the 30 point mark on a corner three mid-way through the quarter), their offense had successfully mucked things up and cut the TRONers lead to just six with three minutes to go. They kept getting to the line over, and over, and over.
However, just when the Robellion could take a breath and see the sun peaking through the clouds, the Globe TRONers clamped the cumulomimbus together and ripped off a flash flood to end the quarter.
Trondo for a lay-up! A Webbrowser three! Another McDermott four point play! The Robellion couldn't get out of the way, and as the quarter closed Chuckbacca couldn't get his lay-up to go down, Doge grabbed the rebound, and as the clock hit 0 errupted from half court for a buzzer beating three. Just like that the Robellion efforts were washed away and the TRONers would go into the court with a massive 92-77 lead.
The Robellion were frustrated but not broken. Even after a Webbrowser three point play the old fashioned way to open the quarter, they knew they could fight back, and Jabar got one of his very own the next trip down.
The Globe TRONers ran up the ball, played the PNR with Trondo and Olajuwon, and Olajuwon sank a 27 foot three to pushed the lead to eighteen.
Once again the Robellion stood firm and found Luka for three. 95-80 TRONers led.
Doge McDermott takes the ball up, finds space, pulls up for three. The lead back to eighteen once again.
The Robellion run up the floor, toss it into Jabar, he's fouled and makes both free throws.
Then, finally, the Globe TRONers offense hits a bump. Chris Webbrowser gets his pocket picked by Skywalker and commits a foul on the fast break to put Kenobi on the line. The Robellion make up some ground and cut the lead to fourteen.
Hakeem gets a dunk, Kenobi gets a dunk.
Doge, who has been the zone of all zones, fires off a stepback three over Kenobi and sinks it--but--is called for the offensive foul for kicking his legs out and the points are wiped off the board.
The next trip down, a surly Doge wraps up Chuckbacca on a dunk attempt and sends him to the line.
Hakeem gets it on the next play but Luka Skywalker climbs the ladder and spikes it off the backboard. Unfortunately for the Robellion the ball finds Webbrowser, who transfers it over to Doge, who is absolutely incapable of missing right now and he drains the three. It's a sixteen point lead with 5 minutes to go, and the Robellion can't just go bucket for bucket anymore. They need to get stops and they need to get them now.
Droidmon misses on the next TRONers possession, Jabar grabs it, fires it to Chuckbacca who misses a three.
Again, Droidmon finds it on offense but Chuckbacca contests and his three is no good. Webbrowser gets the offensive rebound, fires it out to Doge, and even Doge misses it. But the clock is winding down and the lead is still sixteen with 3:44 to play.
Kobe Wan Kenobi snags the rebound and burst down the court for the dunk, Trondo commits the foul, and Kobe gets both at the line. 106-92, TRONers lead, 3:38 to go.
Droidmon sinks a three, but Luka fires back immediately on the other end. 109-95, TRONers.
Hakeem gets an entry pass, elbowing Jabar in the process to create space, but overextends his arm and exposes the ball to a Skywalker steal. Karma, perhaps.
With 2:01 to go in the fourth quarter and the Globe TRONers leading by fourteen, the Robellion were able gather together on the side to make a plan. Whatever was said in that huddle will be speculated on for years to come, as it preceded what may go down as the best two minutes of play in franchise history. Their efforts moving enough to be immortalized in a Swoopsian epic.
The Robellion broke free from their spirited meeting,
A deficit this size was no friendly greeting,
But all they could do was dig in and compete,
Give the ball to Jabar and let that man eat.
Face to face with the defensive powers of Hakeem,
It was he who would be faced with a terrible dream,
Jabar dribbled, planted, and gave him a shake,
As Hakeem would jump up, across the Hutt's arms would he rake.
Two at the line is no problem, both were good,
But the TRONers would push quickly up the hardwood,
Droidmon took a shot only a mother could love,
In for the rebound came Chuckbacca from above.
The Robellion were in a rush, they needed points in a hurry,
But tragically out of bounds sailed a pass from Sith Curry,
On the other end Hakeem set an illegal screen,
A 'Bang!' into Jabar, like an excited Mike Breen.
A rushed three from a frantic Curry sailed just wide,
And with a minute left came the fouls, Hakeem tried to hide,
Webbrowser went to the line and split the intentional pair,
And off the miss sprinted Kenobi, gliding on air.
He dished it to Chuck for three not a second too late,
With a minute to go the lead was cut down to eight,
And on the next play they forced the ball to Hakeem,
Who promptly missed both free throws to the dismay of his team.
Chuckbacca snagged the ball and threw it up court quick as could be,
From Sith, to Jabar, to Skywalker who then pulled up for three,
But threes turn to fours if you stupidly foul a jump shooter,
And that's what Hakeem did with a kick to the...leg.
After that bucket the TRONers now led by only four points,
The nerves of both teams were tense enough to break joints,
A missed lay-up from Trondo led to a Robellion fast break,
Luka stopped at 27 feet, but the shot he couldn't make.
The TRONers rebounded but the ball found Hakeem standing still,
As he stepped back to the free throw line, only one did he kill,
After the split Jabar got up and sprinted to the other end,
And was fouled by Droidmon who was in no position to defend.
Jabar made both and rushed to defend the inbounding player,
The TRONers had to get it to Hakeem again who had not a prayer,
Again he made one of two, the Hack-a-Shaq truce,
And the TRONers set up a formation to get a quick deuce.
A down screen for Curry who received the inbounded ball,
To his side ran Skywalker who did his best to not fall,
He took the hand-off and hucked it to Jabar who was deep in the paint,
And he jammed it home so quick the g-forces would make a normal man faint.
In two minutes and change the Robellion had made this a one shot game,
But how could they tie this up when only two seconds remained,
The TRONers got the ball in, finally to someone not named Hakeem,
This time it was Trondo, who drilled both freebies all nice and clean.
Now just one second remained and the lead was at four,
The TRONers could win this if they just walked off the floor,
They decided to defend, your guess as good as mine why,
Kenobi took the ball out and looked for his guy.
The ball found Skywalker faster than Randy Johnson's two-seemer,
Who launched the ball full court, a long distance screamer,
Luka's hands brushed into Doge's as his follow-through ended,
The shot looked on target, from the skies it descended.
Like the sound of a book closing, or the slamming of a door,
Skywalker's 80-foot heave banked in and hit the floor,
The score was 114-113, buzzer sounded, the Globe TRONers had won,
No shooting foul was called, and the Robellion were stunned.
I truly do not know what to say about this game. I mean, you couldn't write a better game than this. It's a movie. It's so loaded with moments, with plays, with runs, with comebacks, that I wouldn't blame you for thinking this was put on. But it wasn't. It was just the perfect Game 7. The Globe TRONers dominated and pulled out to gigantic leads multiple times in every quarter. Each time, the Robellion found their way back into it and made a push, including what would have been the most miraculous comeback I have ever seen.
I mean, maybe it should have been? Will this be the story of the game? Of the series? Should that foul have been called on the full court prayer and given Luka Skywalker a chance to send it to overtime? Did the refs swallow their whistle thinking there was no chance? Were they looking at the ball and not the play, thinking they couldn't get it off in a second? We'll never know.
All I know is that this was one hell of a series to cover, to watch, and to write about. Both teams were capable of winning every game and would have been worthy champions. Seriously, as evenly matched as a series like this could be.
Thank you so much to the Globe TRONers and the Robellion for agreeing to this and becoming a part of Swoops history. Unofficial or otherwise, this series has to go down as an all-timer.
How great is it that we got the best game for last, too? I mean regardless of the play of both teams, look at this box score.
Where do I even start? Everyone contributed on both teams.
Despite the loss, Jabar the Hutt goes for 33/12/5/1 on 50% from the floor and a Dirk-level 19-22 from the line. Insane.
Chuckbacca does his thing and puts up 20/9 on 60/60/70.
Kobe was straight up denied the ball and double teamed all game after the first quarter but still found his way to an efficient 18 points.
Sith Curry was all over the place, a super efficient 18/3/4 and might have been the Robellion defensive player of the series as he snagged another 5 steals.
Plus, Luka. So close to being a mythological figure in Swoops history at the end. 24/11/8/1/2 on the night and a shot that will be remembered forever.
Trondo with 21/9/3 and 3-3 from downtown. His best game of the series by far.
Webbrowser turns into Kyle Anderson for a game and goes for 14/11/6/1/4.
Droidmon piles in 20 points on 66% shooting, sinks two threes, and is active everywhere else all game.
Hakeem? Well. His defense was good!
And Doge McDermott, wow. You already know he's the Player of the Game but he's without question the Series MVP as well.
He did what he could on the boards, as a facilicator, on defense, but the story is the 44 points on 67/53/75 shooting splits. That's an 85.4% TS shooting night in a Game 7, and his team needed every single point. Incredible.
Here are some series stats to take a look at as well, and at a future date there will be some more data added for this unreal series if you want to check back in.
Again, thank you so much to both of these team owners for getting their players ready for this series and being a part of this. It's going to be so fun following these teams, the players, their careers, and watching this rivalry continue to grow inside the Swoops Universe. There is so much more to do, there is so much more to refine, fix, add, and it's only going to get better from here.
With that being said, which two teams got next?