The College Park Skyhawks led the entire game, minus a brief one-point lead by the 905 at the start of the first quarter.
The 905 were down nine at the end of the first, and inched within five points various times in the second. They came within seven in the third, but that’s as close as they got.
Post-game, Coach Khoury talked about how the 905 never gave up, and even though they were down the entire second half, they never seemed deflated.
The 905 were down to a seven-man roster, and David Johnson got his fourth foul early in the second. That forced Hassani Gravett to play more minutes, who finished the night with a solid 20 points on 8-for-14 shooting. Both teams were missing their two-way players, and Justin Champagnie was the sole NBA assignee.
There are no moral victories, but playing with last night’s intensity against a team tied for first with the Ontario Clippers and Rio Grande Valley Vipers was a positive sign.
After the game, Champagnie spoke about the time it takes to gel as a team. Last Showcase Cup season, the 905 finished 4-8, but finished the regular season 24-8 with an Eastern Conference Finals appearance.
Other 905 players have recently mentioned how they spend more time off the court, getting to know each other. Hopefully, that will translate into more Ws on the hardwood come regular season. After a six-game losing streak, the 905 won three of their last five Showcase Cup games. They even split the series 1-1 with the Showcase Cup-bound Maine Celtics.
Last night, the 905 suffered the same problem afflicting its parent team. They couldn’t hit 3s. They shot 10-for-42 (24%) from behind the arc, though they did shoot 58% from the two-point range. The 905 have shot an abysmal 28% (151-for-536) from three-point range this Showcase Cup season, and they will either need to simply start hitting them, or rely more on the anti-analytic mid-range when teams like College Park pack the paint.
Aside from threes, another area of improvement will be playing defence under pressure. Coach Khoury admitted the difficulty matching the Skyhawks’ speed and force last night. Champagnie, who finished the game with 31 points and G League career-high 16 boards, hit a floater with 2:24 left in the first half, putting the 905 within five points. But allowing Brampton’s A.J. Lawson to walk inside the paint, Perry getting mugged by Armoni Brooks, and back-to-back triples by Jared Rhoden, quickly led to a 14-4 Skyhawks run (with only Perry scoring for the 905).
How the addition of guard Darryl Morsell and 6’10” Aaron Epps (a real big) impact the 905 will be worth keeping tabs on. The 905 will play two games in Mandalay Bay before starting the 32-game regular season against the Iowa Wolves on Thursday, December 29th.
Reggie Perry was one dime shy of a triple-double (28, 10, and 9) last night. He’s averaging 22 and 9 throughout the Showcase Cup season, but what really stood out last night was his passing.
When Perry attacks the paint, good things happen. In the first quarter, he made a beautiful pass, from the wing, to the weakside corner, which fell right into the shooting pocket of Devon Daniels. Later in the fourth, he drove and dished it out to him as Daniels cut to the basket.
Perry and Champagnie had great chemistry last night, exchanging post-entry passes to one another. Perry threw a beautiful lob into Champagnie at the start of the third. In the same quarter, he threw another one to Champagnie after what looked like a reverse horns set.
Perry also continued to show he can pass out of the post. In the third, he drove the lane, set up briefly in the post, and threw a one-handed, Jokic-like pass out to Ryan Hawkins on the weakside corner (Hawkins splashed it, while the former recipient mentioned above was far from doing so)
Gabe Brown had an off shooting night, shooting 2-for-10.
As Warren Ward kept saying on the broadcast, Hassani Gravett can create shots for himself. While he’s not as explosive as Saben Lee, he can get to the hoop easily. Standing 6’2” without a dead-eye three-point shot or freakish athleticism, making it back to the NBA maybe a long road. But he’s been there before, having signed two 10-days with the Magic last season.
A.J. Lawson may not play for the 905, but he’s from the 905: Brampton. Playing in front of family, friends, and his agent Elias Sbiet (one of the brothers who founded North Pole Hoops and has played a big role in building Canada’s grassroots basketball scene) watching, he dropped a career-high 32 points on 14-for-21 shooting (4-for-7 behind the arc) with nine rebounds. It’s easy to root for him — he’s still 22 years old, recently played for the Timberwolves as a two-way, has added muscle to his once-twig-like-frame, and has played for the Guelph Nighthawks. Hopefully, he’ll play for Team Canada very soon.