ABA Mid-Atlantic Divisional Playoffs Preview
The games that Baltimore basketball fans have been waiting for are returning this weekend. Playoff basketball is back, and we can thank the American Basketball Association and the Baltimore Hawks for making it happen. This weekend, Baltimore will host the Mid-Atlantic Divisional playoffs, featuring Richmond Elite, NC Coyotes, Fayetteville Flight, and Baltimore’s own Hawks. If you haven’t been following ABA basketball, here’s a breakdown of each team:
The top seeded Baltimore Hawks are consistently ranked as one of the top five teams in the ABA. They finished the regular season with a 13-4 record, one of those loses coming from the NC Coyotes. This team features one of the best backcourts in the league. Their guards, Terry Hosley, Kiel McCoy, Dashawn Bradshaw, Alfonzo Hawkins, Jaquan Jones, Lionel Perkins, and Curtis Barber are all capable scorers and defenders, and each has provided a spark for the team at some point this season. The two that have consistently shinned this season are Terry Hosley and Dashawn Bradshaw. Bradshaw is the team’s best shooter, especially behind the three point line, and Hosley is the most consistent shooter/scorer. Any team playing the Hawks should always focus on limiting these two. The Hawks also have a good but small front court, led by Juwand Rheubottom and Richard Ford. While they are often smaller than their opponents, their hustle and fight allow them to frequently overcome all physical disadvantages. The Hawks are a team that truly represents their city – blue collar, hard working, and fighters until the end. They are the favorite to advance to the next round of playoff games, but they will have to fight through some tough teams, beginning with the Fayetteville Flight, to get there.
The seconded seeded, ABA 13th ranked, Richmond Elite are returning to the playoffs for the fourth consecutive year. Though they are not the top seed, this team is easily capable of leaving the divisional playoffs as its winner. They finished the regular season with an 11-4 record, and are a high octane offensively minded team. Shooting guards Anthony Ervin and Taneiko Robinson and forward Calvin Lee are the team’s top scorers, but the entire team is capable of putting up big points. The Elite have a history of recruiting great offensive players, and often lose some of their players to overseas teams, due to their excellent play. Early in the season, Richmond Elite suffered losses to the Baltimore Hawks and NC Coyotes, but they have since rebounded and come together as a team. They are heading into the playoffs on a three game winning streak, and look to keep their winning ways going against the NC Coyotes.
The third seeded, 18th ranked (8-4) NC Coyotes have beaten both the number one and two seeded teams during the regular season, and are looking to do so again. The Coyotes are led by former college players Robert Espinosa (small forward), Eladio Espinosa (forward), Anthony Branch (point guard), and Jamie Cheek (forward). Most of their victories can be attributed to a combination of high scoring and good offensive rebounding, which makes them dangerous against any team. They regularly finish games with more than 130 points, and are entering the playoff on a ten game winning streak. Many ABA fans and followers consider this team to be the hottest in the Mid-Atlantic division, and favor them to upset the top seeded Baltimore Hawks. To do so, the Coyotes must first defeat Richmond, in what should be an exciting matchup.
The Fayetteville Flight is the lowest seed in these divisional playoffs, but don’t count them out. Baltimore native and Perry Hall high school graduate, Jade Belt, isn’t planning on returning to his hometown to lose. He and his teammates are coming to win. This team is led by guard Vincent Parnell, who averaged 25.2 points per game and 6.3 assist per game during the regular season. Forward Billy McDade provides most of the rebounding and is also Fayetteville’s second leading scorer. When this team is hot, they are capable of beating anyone, but they have been inconsistent throughout the regular season. Fortunately, the regular season has little to do with the playoffs, and they are expected to bring their A game when they matchup against the Hawks.
The games begin this Saturday at Baltimore City Community College Liberty Campus at 5:00pm.
#2 Richmond Elite vs #3 NC Coyotes @ 5:00pm
#1 Baltimore Hawks vs #4 Fayetteville Flight @ 7:15pm