Compton Magic, an adidas-sponsored and Southern California-based grassroots program, defeats Team Takeover, a Nike-Sponsored grassroots program from Washington, D.C., 81-79, in overtime in the marquee game of the Las Vegas Fab 48 Tip-Off Challenge. With its Wednesday night overtime victory over the 2018 Nike EYBL champions, the Compton Magic program can lay claim to the mythical national crown among grassroots programs for this summer.
Behind the backdrop of looming NCAA regulations that could change the landscape of summertime grassroots basketball in 2019, the 2018 Las Vegas Fab 48 Tip-Off Challenge provided a glimpse of terrific games of yesteryear (back when shoe company lines weren’t as rigid and the best travel basketball teams laced it up in the pursuit of competition and bragging rights) and provided perhaps the last great July live period contest.
If indeed the proposed regulations are passed and executed and there is no July live tournaments in the future, fans were treated to a terrific final act as the Compton Magic, champions of the adidas Gauntlet in New York and the adidas Summer Championships in Los Angeles earlier this month, faced Team Takeover, champions of the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League (EYBL) Peach Jam, at Bishop Gorman High School in the most highly-anticipated grassroots basketball game in recent memory.
It this is the final Las Vegas FAB 48 in its current format, a capacity crowd was treated to the best overall game in the event’s nine-year history, as the Compton Magic outlasted Team Takeover to record a 81-79 overtime victory. It took a complete team effort by the Compton Magic to pull out the victory and lay claim to title of best travel ball team of 2018, as 2019 point guard Isaiah Hill (Liberty, Bakersfield, Calif.) knocked down a pull-up 3-pointer to tie the game at 69-69 with 40 seconds remaining in regulation.
It was Hill’s only made field goal of the terrific 37-minute game.
Keith Stevens’ Team Takeover club, which lost only one game on the EYBL circuit to Nike Team Florida 71-60, had a chance to hold for the final shot of the game (it was played without a shot clock). After the ball went out of bounds with six seconds remaining and Team Takeover retained possession, 2020 point guard Jeremy Roach (Paul VI, Fairfax, Va.) missed a contested running lay-up at the regulation buzzer.
Onyeka Okongwu, a 2019 power forward who has stepped up in big games for both his travel ball and high school team (Chino Hills, Calif.) over the years, did it once again in his last big game in a Compton Magic uniform. The first points of overtime were his three on a conventional 3-point play with 4:36 remaining. He also came up with some clutch rebounds and big defensive plays while battling the likes of 2019 power forward Armando Bacot (Trinity Episcopal, Richmond, Va.) and 2020 center Hunter Dickinson (DeMatha Catholic, Hyattsville, Md.).
After Okongwu’s 3-point play, Compton Magic 2019 forward Eric “Isaiah” Mobley (Rancho Christian, Temecula, Calif.) made a jumper to give his team a commanding 76-71 lead, but the tough boys from our nation’s capital weren’t done just yet.
Roach, one of the best players from the talent-laden Washington Catholic Athletic Conference (WCAC), hit a 3-pointer with 1:23 remaining in overtime to cut Team Takeover’s deficit to 76-74. After two made free throws by Mobley, Bacot converted a big-time conventional 3-point play with 39 seconds remaining to pull his team within one point (78-77). Mobley again converted two free throws after Roach drove hard to the lane and drew contact, but didn’t draw a foul with 17 seconds remaining. That non-call play came as a result of Bacot’s block of an ill-advised lay-up attempt by 2020 wing Johnny Juzang (Harvard-Westlake, North Hollywood, Calif.) with his team leading and with possession of the ball.
Juzang’s blocked lay-up attempt was about the only negative in an otherwise terrific performance for a player proving to be a serious McDonald’s All-American candidate. The talented junior-to-be had the deep jumper working and scored on a variety of shot attempts. While Juzang helped his national standing in what is shaping up to be a terrific 2020 national class, Evan Mobley, a 6-foot-11 power forward oozing with potential and the younger brother of Isaiah Mobley, showed why he’s now considered the best long-term prospect in that same class. He finished well on the block, held his own with Team Takeover’s physical front line and showed the ability to finish on both sides of the key, while posting up or facing the basket.
Evan Mobley made one free throw with one second remaining after Team Takeover’s Justin Moore, a 2019 guard from DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsvile, Md.), made a follow-up shot with five seconds remaining in overtime. Mobley missed the second, the horn sounded and the Compton Magic respectfully congratulated their opponent shortly thereafter.
“Evan proved he deserves the top spot (in the rankings),” said Isaiah Mobley after his brother’s 22- point, four-rebound, two block performance. “This was a great team effort…my teammates did a great job of supporting me after I made a couple of bad plays.”
“This win means a lot for the team because people were doubting us coming in,” Evan Mobley said.
Isaiah Mobley finished with 10 points, eight rebounds and two assists. Okongwu had 16 points, 12 rebounds and five blocked shots, while Juzang finished with 20 points, including a 4-of-7 performance from 3-point range. Hill finished with seven points.
The Compton Magic lost one game at full strength leading up to this game. Okongwu did not play in a buzzer-beating 64-62 loss to the Las Vegas Knicks in Orange County, Calif., over Memorial Day weekend. The Magic’s other loss was a 55-53 setback to Alabama-based Team Carroll at the adidas Summer Championships.
For Team Takeover, Roach netted a team-high 20 points. Bacot showed why he’s one of the very best forwards in the 2019 class, finishing with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Moore had 12 points, three rebounds and two assists and before getting injured with 7:14 remaining in regulation, Dickinson had eight points and three rebounds.
Stevens and the Team Takeover faithful could play the “what if” game since Dickinson did not return. After the raw emotion of the game wore off, however, Team Takeover’s coaching staff agreed it was a terrific game to be part of, even though their team came up just short.
Considering their effort, prior EYBL crown, and attitude in playing this game, Team Takeover wasn’t really a loser in this game. The Compton Magic won the game on the court, but the real winner was the entire grassroots basketball community. The game showed what could be accomplished when great teams and players compete under one roof — and those heavily invested in grassroots can execute without intervention by those whom look to regulate something they don’t regularly experience.