The Pontiac 66ers with a win Wednesday took over first place by a half-game from the Windy City Groove, who lost Wednesday. The 66ers sit at 9-4, while the Groove are at 8-4. The Chicago Blues, meanwhile, have moved into third place by half a game over the St. Louis RiverSharks, with Chicago at 7-4 at St. Louis at 6-4.
And with five games the next five days on the schedule, the playoff picture might begin to clear up a little-or it might be murkier than ever.
The action starts Friday as the Groove try to snap a three-game losing streak against the RiverSharks in Chicago. St. Louis beat Windy City last Saturday 108-100, despite losing league MVP Justin Bocot that morning to a contract in Mexico. The Groove, however, were playing without two of their stars, Dion Vance Cooksey (6'0''-PG-87, college: Pikeville) and Sean Dockery (6'2''-G-83, college: Duke), who both figure to be back for tonight's game.
Bruce Massey (6'3''-G-90, college: Middle Tenn.St.) continues to lead the post-Bocot RiverSharks, earning his second Player of the Week nod in the past three weeks. He's averaging 21.9 points and 7.6 rebounds for Ray Farrell 's team. Aaron Williams (6'6''-G, college: Chicago St.) and Jaylen Fulton (6'1''-G, college: St.Louis CC) stepped up big in Bocot's absence against the Groove, and will be needed to do so again if St. Louis hopes to take down Windy City twice in a row.
The Groove are mired in their worst losing streak of the year. After winning eight of their first nine, Handy Johnson's squad has dropped three straight. Dion Cooksey is Windy City's top scorer at 22.7 points per game, and also hands out 4.8 assists per game. Five other Groove score in double figures, while Ray Miller (6'8''-F/C, college: CS Fullerton), signed last month, has bolstered the interior defense for Windy City, blocking 1.8 shots per game and pulling down 6.8 rebounds to go along with his 9.5 points.
On Saturday, the Gateway Steam head to Champaign in a battle of two teams fighting to stay alive for the playoffs. Gateway (3-8), after reaching .500, has lost five in a row, while Champaign (3-9), after winning its first two games under new coach Daniel Ruffin, has lost its last two.
Michael Rogers is the top scorer for Champaign at 20.9 points per game, but he and Aaron Weaver (6'6''-G, college: North Park) (19.8) have been helped out by the signing of Jonathan Mills, who, in four games, is averaging 18.0 points and 11.0 rebounds for the Swarm. Oliver McGlade (5'11''-PG, college: Seton Hill) continues to be one of the league's best three-point shooters, at 27 of 66 (.409) from downtown.
Sunday, the Lima Express try to stay in the hunt for a playoff spot as they host Pontiac. Last Sunday, the Express ended a hard-luck five-game losing streak with a win over Gateway. Lima boasts three 20-plus-point scorers in Kyle Meyer (6'6''-F-88, college: Ohio Northern) (22.8), Jody Hill (6'2''-G-91, college: Livingstone) (21.3) and Cordaryl Ballard (6'5''-G-87, college: USC Aiken) (20.6). Meyer leads the team in rebounding at 6.8 per game, and Ballard leads the league in assists per game at 5.4.
MVP frontrunner Alfonzo Houston (6'3''-G-92, college: N.C.Central) leads the 66ers and the league in scoring at 26.5 points per game, as seven players for Pontiac average scoring in double figures. Alex Marzette (6'5''-G) and Marcus Hammonds (6'5''-F/G-87, college: Texas A&M-CC) continue to control the boards for the 66ers, each averaging just over 8 rebounds per game, as well as throwing in double-digit points. Durrell Robinson , despite having lost four players to overseas contracts this season, continues to reload and has his team poised to make a run at the top overall playoff seed.
Monday night, the Swarm host the Blues in a game being made up from the February 24, when a severe winter storm rolled through East Central Illinois.
The athletic Blues, winners of three in a row, can score from inside or outside, depending on the night, with six players averaging in double figures. Shakir Johnson (6'9''-C-87, college: Metro St.) and Jakeem Hill (6'5''-F-89, college: Webber Intern.) have formed a SWAT team as of late, with Johnson blocking ten shots his last two games, and Hill turning away eight.
Finally, Tuesday, the RiverSharks host the Steam in the final regular-season meeting between those two cross-town rivals.
All the MPBA action over the next five days and all season long can be seen live, free of charge and in high definition on your laptop or mobile device by visiting the league's online broadcast channel, MPBA.tv.
January 9, 2017 ST. LOUIS - The Midwest Professional Basketball Association has decided to move its upcoming season from a traditional winter start to the summer of 2017, in an effort to determine whether playing closer to the autumn overseas signing period will result in more foreign advancements for MPBA players. The MPBA, which began play in January of 2015, has sent 60 players to overseas teams or the NBA D-League. "Doing a summer league has been in the works since our inception in... [read more]
January 9, 2017
ST. LOUIS - The Midwest Professional Basketball Association has decided to move its upcoming season from a traditional winter start to the summer of 2017, in an effort to determine whether playing closer to the autumn overseas signing period will result in more foreign advancements for MPBA players.
The MPBA, which began play in January of 2015, has sent 60 players to overseas teams or the NBA D-League.
"Doing a summer league has been in the works since our inception in 2014," said C. Edward 'Ed' Schumer, commissioner and chief executive officer for the MPBA. "We feel like we've had a lot of early success moving players up, and we're eager to try the summer league model. But as such a young league, we don't have the resources yet to be able to do our regular winter/spring season as well as a summer league."
Approximately 30% of all players accumulating statistics in the MPBA's two seasons of play have signed contracts to play in Europe, South America or the D-League.
"Playing in the summer will have a couple major benefits," said Craig Fata, associate commissioner for the MPBA. "It will be closer to when foreign leagues sign players, so the guys in our league will have the freshest film and be in the best shape. It will also allow us to bring in college players who have just completed their final seasons."
The MPBA expects to play both a winter/spring league and a summer league in 2018, Schumer said. Details about schedules, locations and teams for the summer league will be released in the coming weeks.
The Midwest Professional Basketball Association 2017 player combine, scheduled for November 20 in suburban Chicago, has been canceled. 'We didn't have enough players sign up that we thought would be able to go overseas,' said Ed Schumer , commissioner and chief executive officer of the MPBA. 'We don't want to just take money from kids, knowing they didn't have a chance to move up. It's not fair to them. Our combine process is not designed to just be a revenue stream for us.' The MPBA has... [read more]
The Midwest Professional Basketball Association 2017 player combine, scheduled for November 20 in suburban Chicago, has been canceled. 'We didn't have enough players sign up that we thought would be able to go overseas,' said Ed Schumer , commissioner and chief executive officer of the MPBA. 'We don't want to just take money from kids, knowing they didn't have a chance to move up. It's not fair to them. Our combine process is not designed to just be a revenue stream for us.' The MPBA has sent nearly 60 players overseas since beginning play in January 2015. 'This isn't a rec league, or a league for somebody over 30 who still can play at a high level,' Ed Schumer said. 'We want young aspiring professionals who want to go to the next level.' All players who registered and paid the combine fee will have their money refunded in full, Ed Schumer said. 'We encourage players to still register in our free online database so that our coaches and personnel people can look at their resumes and films. And if, based on their credentials, we feel they have a shot to advance, we'll reach out to them over the next month or so,' Ed Schumer said. Courtesy of: thempba.com
November 1, 2016 ST. LOUIS - A player who led Peoria Manual High School to four straight state championships and the University of Illinois to an Elite 8 appearance has been named the head coach of the Midwest Professional Basketball Association's Champaign Swarm. Sergio McClain (6'4''-F-78, college: Illinois) has agreed to helm the Swarm for the 2017 season, set to begin in January. "I'm looking forward to working with a credible league, the Champaign Swarm organization, and my suppor... [read more]
Sergio McClain (6'4''-F-78, college: Illinois) has agreed to helm the Swarm for the 2017 season, set to begin in January.
"I'm looking forward to working with a credible league, the Champaign Swarm organization, and my supporters in the Champaign community," said McClain. "This is a great opportunity and fit as far as pursuing my career goals. But I'm most excited about teaching the tools and work ethic these athletes will need both on the court and in the community with kids and other service groups to help make them successful."
"Sergio will bring toughness and grit, I have no doubt," said fellow Peoria legend A.J. Guyton , director of basketball personnel and associate commissioner for the MPBA. "He will bring a competitive team to Champaign, and because he's already coached in the minor leagues, the transition should be seamless. I believe he will take full opportunity to be a head coach at this level once again."
McClain led Manual to an unprecedented four straight Illinois state basketball titles from 1994-1997 playing for his venerable father Wayne, earning prestigious Illinois 'Mr. Basketball' honors as a senior in 1997, when he averaged 18.5 points and 5.8 rebounds per game.
McClain then started 80 games over the next four years under Lon Kruger and Bill Self in Champaign, helping his team to a pair of Big Ten championships, and an Elite Eight appearance as a senior in 2001. Following his career at Illinois, McClain played in the NBA Development League and at the semi-pro level. He then stepped into coaching, directing Parkland College in Champaign for one year in 2008.
Four years later, McClain became an assistant under his father at Champaign Central, and then took over the program on an interim basis after his father's sudden death in 2014.
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