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Powell and Wright win Nike Crown League

This was never going to be a fair contest.

One year after falling to ACE 68-63 in the battle to become Nike Crown League kings, M.A.D.E. took a page out of the Golden State Warriors playbook and stacked the deck in their favor by recruiting Norman Powell and Delon Wright. Despite 6Man putting up a good fight for over a half, there was a sense of inevitability to the 86-74 final score., unfortunately a running theme in basketball this year.

Powell and Wright proved the difference without ever having to kick things into high gear, and were quite happy to be a part of Toronto’s summer Pro-am at Ryerson University.

“It’s a great experience to come out here and play in front of a crowd like this,” Powell said with music blaring and a seemingly endless stream of confetti bolting out of cannons. “To come out after the season and show face, give them (the crowd) a show — give them something to look forward to going into next year — it was a lot of fun.”

While Powell took home the accolades with his customary drives to the rim and thunderous dunks, it was Wright who decisively swung the game M.A.D.E.’s way in not so signature fashion. After 6Man had overcome a sizable early deficit to trail 49-47 in the second half, the former Utah Ute hit a catch-and-shoot three from the left wing and a pull-up triple on their next possession after sizing up his defender. He added another shot from downtown off the bounce just a couple of possessions later, putting the contest to bed.

“It was a good atmosphere,” Wright said after the game. “I’ve never played in this league before, but next year I’ll try and play again.”

That can only bode well for Crown League organizers and for basketball in the city of Toronto, as fans can come out on a summer night and watch their fellow Canadians and very own Raptors inspire them for free. Pascal Siakam made an appearance during the semifinals, and Kelly Olynyk caused a stir in Week 3 with a buzzer-beating game-winner to cap off a 38 point night. In addition to the pros, this was the first time the Crown League was NCAA certified, allowing college players to participate in the tournament.

In the consolation game, Brady Heslip went off once again, dropping 26 points to lead One Love T.O. to third place with a closer-than-the-final-score-suggests 93-81 victory over last year’s champions, ACE. Uncle Jay Triano was in the building to witness the hot shooting, and so was Canada U-19 men’s basketball coach Roy Rana. Adding to the familiar faces were Matt Devlin, and as you would expect at any basketball event of significance in Toronto, Superfan Nav Bhatia was in his favorite courtside baseline seat rocking a Crown League #33 jersey.

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