Albany, Ny – The Albany Legends have a new home this season at CBA, where they faced the Kankakee Soldiers in their home opener. With familiar local names such as Scott McRae, Lucious Jordan, and Will Harris Suny Albany lovers were sure to be in attendance. However, I think many people were anticipating performances by DeAndre Thomas as well as Emanuel “Tiki” Mayben.
Mayben, a Troy native helped bring Binghamton University to their first NCAA basketball tournament appearance. He was also unfortunately in some trouble there after. An event that has well passed. He certainly has continued to work hard and had plenty of ambitions to make his way back to the court. He made his statement their tonight. The crowd behind him and even a poster made by a fan “Tiki 8 We Missed U!”
Thomas played for the Indiana Hoosiers and notched 11 points, three rebounds, an assist and a steal in his debut. With the Legends, his athleticism is unmistaken and his passion apparent. He said during our interview “I didn’t have butterflies at all, this is my job.” He is all business on the court.
The IBL game is played a little bit different than what we may be used to. These differences really show the resilience in the players themselves. There is very little “dead time” which leads to a faster paced game. The teams are allotted one timeout per quarter. The IBL also employs an immediate rebounds rule to get the game going quickly. Mostly the IBL follows NBA rules with the exception that the players only have a 22 second shot clock. Most of the current players are used it but others such as Mayben, are still in the works of making the adjustment. Coach Ben Smith is confident that it will become “easier as we go along.”
The Legends started out calm, cool, and collected easily making their mark on the board with a 6-0 run. With 8:52 in the 1st quarter the Soldiers made their reply with a 3 pointer and a super dunk nearly over the top of Thomas. The Legends came up huge on the offensive end of things but it was important that the defense did as well. Scott McRae and DeAndre Thomas had fantastic starts. Both were guiding the basketball through the paint efficiently. The team itself displayed wonderful ball handling skills and considering they didn’t have much time with one another as a whole to practice, no one would have noticed.
Mayben showed great intensity when he was guarding his man. Damone got his groove late in the 1st quarter with a sweet dunk expanding the Legends lead 19-12. The 1st quarter came to a close 24-16 in the Legends favor. The Soldiers had not lead once in the game.
On the other end of the spectrum the Soldiers had to claw their way back into the game and they did. Ryan Edwards, Kankakee guard was out for blood after a couple of questionable calls on the refs parts….well at least he thought so. He and Billy Baptist were dominate forces to be reckoned with. Baptist was quick on his feet and stunned with 360 up and under moves to make buckets….I mean I would have been pleased with an easy layup, of course, they were missing dunks left and right so this made up for it.
As the 2nd quarter pressed on the Soldiers crushed the Legends lead and tied the game with approximately 5 minutes to play. EJ Gallup, Legends 6’4″ guard from Coastal Carolina, came in to take the reigns with a 3 pointer after the Soldiers took the lead. Mayben hooked up with Gallup moments later and just like that another 3. The Soldiers switched to a half court press but Scott McRae would not be intimidated by any of the defense set in his way. He was eagerly ready to challenge the defenders but smart enough to be able to draw fouls.
DeAndre seemed to struggle a bit turning the ball over 3 times but would redeem himself by spectacular blocking, he had 3 of those as well. At the end of the 2nd quarter the Legends were down 56-58.
The rebounding issues for the Legends became more apparent in the 3rd quarter. The Soldiers were certainly capitalizing on this. Free throws were missed often by both teams, more so by the Legends. With the game back and forth as it had gone from here on out, these attempts as we all know can make or break a teams chances in the end.
With seconds to go in the 3rd and twice now this had happened, seconds ticking off the clock, Legends last attempt for a shot, had all been missed but this shot Mayben took in the well off the 3 point line sunk like a brick and the crowd went nuts. The score now 89-84 Legends lead and this I think changed Mayben’s momentum and attitude for the rest of the game. Sometimes that is all it takes for a player to ignite, a single shot. LOOOOKK OUUUUTTT!!! He hit 2 more 3s from that spot the rest of the game.
With the game on the line, Mike Simms from the Soldiers bench hits a 3 to make the game 113-112 in the Legends favor. Mayben was fouled and needed to make the free throws. He made them both and a last miracle attempt from the Soldiers was not answered. The Legends win their home opener 115-112.
Top scorers of the game were DeAndre Thomas and Tiki Mayben. Quiet but a true leader of the team Chris Grant scored 7 points. When asking the Coach Ben Smith who the leader of the team was he credited a lot to Grant. “Chris Grant is our leader on this team. Chris Grant comes up and down the floor, he directs traffic, he lets people know where they are supposed to be when they are supposed to be their.” Smith also has faith and potential in Mayben stating,”Tiki is going to lead by example all year long. You can’t displace how good of a basketball player that young man is.”
The season surely looks promising after today’s game. The Legends will face the Soldiers tomorrow night at CBA 7pm. Don’t miss the fun and action!