PETRAS MALUKAS/Getty Images
LiAngelo Ball isn’t on an NBA roster and LaMelo Ball is too young to play in the Association, but they can add something to their resumes after Sunday: a championship in the league their father created.
The Ball brothers led Los Angeles to the first-ever Junior Basketball Association championship with a 132-121 victory over Seattle in the inaugural title game at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, California.
LaVar Ball created the JBA as something of an alternative to the NCAA, and his sons put their final stamp on the first season by pouring in the points in Sunday’s championship contest.
LiAngelo was dominant throughout, as he tallied 58 points, 11 rebounds and six assists and drilled the biggest shot of the contest. After Seattle trimmed a double-digit deficit to three with less than two minutes remaining, LiAngelo connected on one of his seven triples to give Los Angeles some much-needed breathing room.
LaMelo added 34 points, 15 rebounds and nine assists, although he had 11 turnovers and shot only 2-of-7 from deep.
The Ball brothers and their teammates earned some head-turning Cadillacs as prizes for their victory:
One more quarter remaining until the winners receive 2018 Cadillacs!! #JBA #BBB #Newballera https://t.co/PMx4Go7cCJ
The contest lived up to the billing as a rematch of the thrilling matchup on June 24 when Los Angeles prevailed 150-145. Seattle was tied after a quarter and remained within striking distance even after falling behind in the middle portion of the game, which allowed it to consistently chip away down the stretch before LiAngelo’s clutch three and free throws expanded the final deficit.
Jerrel Springer led the way for Seattle with 32 points, while Treyvon Abdullah-Booker stuffed the stat sheet with 23 points and 18 rebounds.
It still wasn’t enough to overcome LiAngelo, who wasn’t shy about launching shots from the start. He took 29 of his 53 shot attempts in the first half alone and was able to stretch the defense with his perimeter game and score inside when the matchups called for it.
He made up for his brother’s inefficiency, as LaMelo struggled with Seattle’s pressure defense and continued turning the ball over while failing to find his touch from deep. To his credit, though, he found other ways to impact the game by battling for boards and dishing out assists when his teammates were open.
The question now is what comes next in the basketball careers for the two Ball brothers. Their father provided a potential answer at halftime of Sunday’s contest:
@Lavarbigballer just announced at halftime that the #JBA will grab the best 10 players from the league and go worldwide and compete overseas. #JBAPlayoffs #NewBallEra https://t.co/V33FVPDk8w
LaMelo figures to have an NBA future if he fulfills his potential. The 16-year-old was a highly regarded prospect before he played in various leagues with his brother, and he competed against much older players at times.
After LiAngelo went undrafted in 2018, LaVar insisted the JBA is how he will eventually earn his spot on the Los Angeles Lakers to join his older brother, Lonzo.
LiAngelo may have a ways to go before he makes it to the NBA, but he was a dominant force Sunday and came away as a JBA champion.