Tuesday, May 20, 2014

NYBL's First Rate Squad - God First Crusaders

The game of basketball is about perseverance and development at its truest form; the God First AAU   is a team that is built on respecting the game the name may have been the first indicator of what type of program and leadership we are speaking about.  The teams Head Coach and program Director is Michael Leblanc; yes the same Michael LeBlanc, who averaged 18 points, 12 rebounds and six assists at small forward his senior season of High School in Sugerland, TX and chose UConn over Stanford, Florida, Duke and Michigan for college.

Needless to say, Leblanc knows what it takes to achieve on a high level and he has immediately began to give back to the basketball  through his God First Club program based out of Houston, a 2020 participant in the NYBL which personifies the lead and whats right with the game. Ironically the leader of this squad is another Leblanc, Isiah – a 6’0 Wing who can handle, finish, and stick the perimeter shot with range and works extremely well in space.  Isiah who has also been selected as a member of the USA National Select team has appeared as a NYBL top performer every session.  Even with this individual success the team started the NYBL season struggling out the gate at the first session while missing a few of its starters.  But they persevered.  

God First then went back to the lab and worked (development) and came back to the NYBL’s second session with starters in tow and doubled their win total from the prior session.  Next up session III; God First taking a 3-7 record into the weekend ran the table with a 5-0 record using scintillating team performances to carve out each victory.  These victories were marked by not just team offense but excellent team defense.  

These victories started with a dominating performance over the East Division Leaders Canada’s Brampton Warriors 66-45 and the Mansfield Cavaliers 64-55 from Ohio, God First then took out another Canadian based program with an electrifying 50-34 defeat over Mississauga Knights to finish the day.  The next morning it was more of the same, opening up by defeating Endplay 50-39.  On Sunday God First came out smoking too, but Flints Finest, a very long and athletic squad from Michigan came in looking for the upset; God First went up early controlled the pace of the game and protected the paint on their end, while forcing the action inside when they had the ball – the result? A 62-51 shellacking by the Crusaders! 

This is the definition of basketball, God First persevered, they developed both mentally, as individuals, and as a team; combine this with a steady diet of top NYBL competition and you have a team on the rise not just in Houston where they are from but nationally as well.  It’s not very often you see players and a program doing things the right way and growing organically in AAU basketball.  The players don’t care about headlines or stats they care about each other and winning – this is a program that is a breath of fresh air to the sport and a  team to watch out for come playoff time in the NYBL. 

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