ORLANDO – This season, the NBA 2K League announced that broadcasts will feature nightly themes. “NBA 2KL Friday Night Fire” was designed to spotlight the league’s premier matchups and highlight some of the most exciting players in the league.
Magic Gaming and the Gen.G Tigers made sure that the first Friday night set lived up to the billing.
Orlando’s unit displayed coolness and cohesion in critical moments as they came up with back-to-back game-winning performances in a sweep of Gen.G to improve to 3-1 in the regular season.
Game 1: Robert “May” May and Brendan “Reizey” Hill worked a sensational two-man game throughout the contest, so it was only fitting that the matchup was decided on a connection between two of Orlando’s returning cornerstones.
After a timeout with 7.2 seconds left, Reizey dumped the ball into May down low. The versatile center then kicked it back out to the former Rookie of the Year. Reizey then started to drive to basket, drew the defense, and once again connected with May for a game-winning slam with 0.3 seconds left to give Magic Gaming a 74-73 victory over Gen.G.
“We trusted Reid and May in the pick-and-roll; they’d been killing it, really, for the length of the game,” Magic Gaming General Manager and Head Coach Jonah Edwards explained. “We trusted that they were going to get a basket.”
May finished with 28 points and 10 rebounds while going a scorching 14-of-15 from the floor. In addition to the game-winning dunk, the third-year pro made a number of key plays down the stretch.
“May’s game is not like other centers in the fact that he’s not looking to score every time,” Edwards said. “He’s looking to take what is there and make the right play.”
Reizey posted 28 points and 13 assists, while Daniel “DT” Tlais added seven points, six rebounds and steals.
For Gen.G, Jordan “JMoney” Martinez tallied 26 points and 13 assists, Mihad “FEAST” Feratovic notched 24 points and six rebounds, and Alex “Bsmoove” Reese scored 18.
Game 2: After a thrilling opening contest to the two-game series, it was hard to imagine that the second meeting between the two teams could top the first matchup in excitement. But that’s exactly what happened in Magic Gaming’s second outing against Gen.G.
Down one and with time winding down, May grabbed a crucial offensive rebound, kicked it out to Josue “FutureClutch” Acosta Gomez, who knocked down a game-winning baseline jumper with 0.9 seconds left as Magic Gaming rallied back from a 16-point deficit to defeat Gen.G, 62-61.
“He did come up clutch tonight with a couple of big plays down the stretch,” Edwards said of FutureClutch, who finished with 13 points. “The message to him is to keep shooting. We believe in his shooting ability. I actually think he’s a great shooter (and) he has the permanent green light from us. He made big plays offensively tonight.”
In addition to the big offensive board, May stuffed the stat sheet with 10 points, 16 rebounds, four assists, three steals, and two blocks.
“Pretty crazy ending, especially where we force a turnover on the sidelines (with 18.9 seconds left), which I’ve only seen, including retail, happen one time (this year),” May said. “And we capitalized on it.”
Reizey was once again instrumental in the team’s success, scoring 17 points and knocking down a critical half-court three to close out the third quarter that helped swing momentum in Orlando’s favor.
“Things like that are what completely turn the game around,” May said. “When there’s a run going on, one play, one stop, one shot – obviously in that situation – completely turns the game around. I think the best asset that we have as a team this year is we have the ability to adjust mid-game and also mid-series.”
Justin “Snubby” Stemerman fired off a game-high 21 points and DT recorded nine rebounds, three assists, and two steals.
For Gen.G, Bsmoove scored 16, JMoney had 13 points and 11 assists, and FEAST tallied 12 points and 13 rebounds.
Quote to Note: “That’s how you build a championship team. Every team is going to go through ups and downs. It’s how you handle yourselves in those situations. There were a lot of times we could have given up or been extremely frustrated in that series, and we just stayed with it. No one gave up. Everyone believed in each other. It’s really a blessing to be a part of. This is a group that we finally have where we’re all together and can compete with any team in the league.” – May
Looking Ahead: Next up, Magic Gaming will look to get revenge on 76ers GC for eliminating them in THE TIPOFF tournament. Orlando and Philadelphia split a two-game set in group play and then later met in a three-contest semifinals series that went the distance.
Magic Gaming’s defensive game plan will likely once again focus on limiting Andre “Dre” Marshall, the fourth overall pick in the 2021 NBA 2K League draft, and former league MVP Dayne “OneWildWalnut” Downey.
“We are absolutely looking forward to that Sixers game,” Edwards said. “We do feel like it could be a potential revenge game for sure, but I think we just feel like we’re growing as a team every day. We’re getting better every day through practice and as cliché as that sounds, I don’t think that’s the truth in a lot of team’s locker rooms right now.”