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Thursday, 14 November 2019 12:07 Written by Dominik Jenewein
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2025 AmCon Semifinals Preview

Snipers PF Gregory Santiago, the breakout star of the 1st round of the playoffs, will face a tough challenge inside against the likes of the Tritons' Hunter Heath and Joe Aviles.


#1 Kansas City Pioneers (65-15) vs. #4 Indiana Invaders (47-33)

by Dominik Jenewein

It’s pretty uncommon to see the Indiana Invaders win some playoff games and even survive round 1, but a hard fought 7 game series against the Stallions saw them coming out as winners. The Pioneers however are a safe bet when it comes to success and are yet again the #1 seed, coming into round 2 after an easy first round win against the Los Angeles Chaos.

After last year’s bad luck with injuries during the playoffs, GM Ben Johnson and the Pioneers are eager to go for it again and their regular season record lets them enter this round as the clear favorites. The Invaders didn’t change a lot in comparison to last year’s 34-46 season, but benefit of a bad American conference and a team that seems to found its rhythm by making just minor changes to the lineup while keeping the main parts the same. But will they stand a chance against the mighty Pioneers?

The Starting Fives

By letting go of Colby Allan and acquiring Mack Lavoie, Pioneers GM Ben Johnson made a ballsy move that ultimately let the Pioneers take another step forward. Trading for Charles Cazares this year was another risky move. While the qualities of Cazares are undisputed, his heavy longterm contract is seen as a big burden by a lot of league’s fans. So far it paid off, as Cazares added great defensive value into the Pioneers frontcourt, exactly what is needed against a mainly offensive minded C like Richard Hardee. On the wings they get accompanied by offensive weapon Blake Cobb, who splits his minutes in a tandem with veteran and Pioneers legend Marshall Gaudett. The Pioneers backcourt is the probably the league’s best when it comes to offense. Both Mack Lavoie and Mark Marble average 20 points or more and give the opponents defense nightmares. But when it comes to scoring, the Invaders backcourt isn’t too bad either. “The Real Lynwood” has come of age and his efficiency by now has become ok, while his playmaking skills are still top of the notch. At SG the Invaders start the league’s all time leading scorer Cleveland Hall, who despite his age of 35, is still one of the best scorers in the league, averaging 23 points on a PPS of 1.15. So looking at these two backcourts, we can expect a real shootout!

At Small Forward the Invaders start 20 years old Garrett Bennett, who still not really arrived in OBWL. He does a bit of everything, but nothing extraordinary well. Seeing this young man face up against veterans like Cobb and Gaudett will be very fun to watch. So far his performance in round 1 was very good, can he keep it up against the older and much slower veterans?

In the frontcourt, Indiana combines veterancy with young talent. 7-2 Center Ted Portis is still one of the supreme post defenders, despite time nagging on his performance. At his side the Invaders field 22 year old Thomas Wilhoit, who can be seen as one of the biggest surprises of this season. In his first season as a starter, Wilhoit has shown good performances on offense, on the boards and when it comes to steals and blocks. If he develops further, Indiana is in for a treat. But will the Invaders frontcourt keep up with the star-packed Bigs out of Kansas City? Richard Hardee might be faster than Portis, but he’s a lot smaller and might have problems against the wingspan of Ted Portis. Cazares however can use his size and quickness against Wilhoit by posting up and with a quick first step. Overall the Pioneers frontcourt will certainly come out as the winner here.

Bench and Playstyle

While the Pioneers are known for a very substitution heavy playstyle for years, the Invaders usually rely mainly on their starters and 1 or two main backups. In the frontcourt Pioneers C Joe Turner will face his former teammate Ted Portis, with whom together he won a championship in 2023. As already stated the Pioneers play a tandem at SF that splits minutes in Gaudett and Cobb. In the backcourt they give the most backup minutes to David Kitchens, last years most improved player. But young PG Preston Braun gets some spot minutes as well.

Indiana splits the backcourt minutes between PG Edward Niemi, SG Cameron Gaughan and SF Xavier Parker, 3 player with great role player qualities.

Legendary L-Train Louis Lysne steps in as Indiana’s main backup under the rim, getting even more minutes than the 2 starting Big’s, thus making him actually the main big guy in Indiana.

Overall both teams have some depth to show and can rely on their bench if their stars need a rest or get into foul trouble. So I would hesitate to give an advantage to either of the teams here.

Looking at their playstyle, Indiana is pretty good when it comes to creating turnovers or getting blocks or rebounds. They aren’t spectacular in any category, but have a very well balanced mix without big flaws. KC however has its power mainly from a very bullish playstyle. They score a lot, rebound a lot, and put their opponent under pressure to create turnovers or take away second shot opportunities. They have a well-mixed offensive shooting style and have no flaws in their game. Most of their players are able to create shots on their own but play very well together as a unit too. It’s the versatility that makes the Pioneers such a nightmare opponent and the Invaders will have a very hard time trying to win this series. Overall I can see them maybe squeeze out a home win and maybe even get a second win, but the Pioneers will pretty surely close this series within 6 games to succeed to the conference finals.

Pioneers in 5 or 6 at max.



#2 Tampa Bay Tritons (63-17) vs. #3 Sacramento Snipers (47-33)

by Dominik Jenewein

For the second playoff round in the American Conference, the Tampa Bay Tritons will face the Sacramento Snipers. Both come off a first round sweep against their opponents, which will make the matchup an exciting one to watch. The Tritons are back to their old strength and are tyring to gains some playoff success again after four consecutive dissapointing years. For the Snipers it's their best season ever and also their first ever appearance in round 2.

While the Tritons sweeping the 7th seeded Muscle was no big surprise, the 4 game series win for the Snipers against the Americans was, as they were playing the whole series without their superstar Lynwood Emmert, who is still injured and will also miss the whole 2nd round with a broken arm.

Let's take a look at the teams itself and make a quick guess on how the series will play out:

The Starting Fives

The Tritons starting five is pretty much set in stone, as there is no need to change a winning team. In the backcourt they will field superstar Colby Allan alongside young defensive stud Joe Aviles. With Hunter Heath they have a Small Forward that doesn't need no explanation and at PF and C they will bring in their role-play duo of Blair Tolman and often underrated Alfonso Beggs. Both bigs have their first year in Tampa Bay and are giving their GM Tom Lacher an unspectacular but efficient play style without many mistakes.

On the Snipers side, the starting lineup is different than we are used to see due to the injury of Emmert. Therefore PG Troy Howse will have Dieudonné Carpentier at his side. The young frenchman stepped in in round 1 and gave GM Chris Noonan a satisfying 15ppg performance on an efficient shooting base. At SF they will start Octavio Morrison, while at PF they bring in self developed Gregory Santiago. Newly acquired C Justin Malone will be the defensive anchor under the rim. 

Despite the loss of Emmert, the Snipers still have a very strong starting five, which might even be better than the Tritons one. With the addition of Justin Malone in February, they brought in a low foul, high blocking defensive machine that gives them experience and stability under the rim, the perfect teammate for their young PF Gregory Santiago. So looking at the PF and C position, the Snipers have a clear advantage over the Tritons, but the SF position kind of equals all of this. While Ocativo Morrison has qualities, he is by far not the player that Hunter Heath is. The Hunter, arguably one of the best players of all time, gives the Tritons everything they need. Relatively efficient and versatile scoring, rebounding, great matchup defense, steals and blocks as well as good passing and little to no fouling.

While the frontcourts have about equal quality, it's a different picture in the backcourt. Colby Allan is a great gunner and playmaker, Aviles a versatile lock down defender that is also great on the offensive end. Combined they are a backcourt that is deadly on offense, great on defense and just the dream of every OBWL franchise. Especially against such a talented duo the Snipers will extremely miss Lynwood Emmert. Howse is more of a playmaker and not a good scorer, Carpentier will have problems defending the Tritons firepower. Against Aviles it is also to be expected, that his offensive efficiency will lower back to a sub average shooting performance, while a guy like Emmert would probably have been unimpressed by the Tritons defense and making his own game.

So overall the Tritons should have an advantage when it comes to the starting five.

Bench and Playstyle

Looking at bench and rostedepth, the Tritons split their minutes among several guys with noone being more than a roleplayer. Quality wise they depend a lot on their starting players, but have 3 or 4 good roleplayers, that know their part of the job and can jump in to give them some quality in the needed area. In the frontcourt it is Darin Tsai who gives them an offensive push while Myron Olander gives them defensive stability under the rim. In the backcourt they split their minutes among guys that do a bit of everything, but nothing special.

On the Snipers bench it's different. The Snipers playstyle relies heavily on their starters, with Emmert and Santiago averaging more than 40 minutes a game, while Howse get's up to 36 minutes a game too. With Emmert down and his main backup jumping in as starter, they gave the backup minutes mainly to Michael Sickler at SF and PF, while young Gregory Brown gets the most minutes under the rim. In the backcourt they kept their style and are only giving away spot minutes for veteran Curtis Swiger. Another injury, even if it's to a backup guy, would be fatal for the Snipers, as they are already pretty limited in their backup options.

When it comes to playstyle the teams have a similar approach. Both teams play a game with little mistakes, be it turnovers or fouls. On offense Sacramento is very efficient from the inside and when it comes to jump shots, the Tritons are efficient in all areas. One of the main aspects to watch will be the perimeter game. Tampa Bay leads the league in 3 point efficiency while Sacramento has one of the worst perimeter defenses. Can the Tritons benefit from that? Will the Snipers be able to yet again overcome the injury of Emmert? My guess is no and I give the Snipers little chance to succeed. The Tritons will overcome their bad run of playoff kick-outs and will take this series relatively easy.

Tritons in 5 or 6 at max.



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0 #1 Matt Reid 2019-11-14 22:51
Good write up Dom!

I knew you were going to get a dig or two in when I saw you had the AmCon review. Made me smile the first paragraph =P

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