The second week of the 2006 EBC summer starts off on a sombre note as Hannibal makes a heartfelt speech in honour of Al B. Cisco, inventor of the Harlem Shake, who passed away on Friday. It’s appropriately stormy as we bow our heads for a moment of silence, and the usually ebullient crowd is uncharacteristically timid come the tip-off.
They soon find their spirits, however, when both teams start the game looking as if they’d read the rules for the first time on the journey to Harlem. Following a string of defensive lapses at either end, the fans rain boos on the court, letting the players know that weak basketball is about as welcome in this park as Isiah Thomas at Larry Brown’s house on Thanksgiving. The Rich Soil Monstars allow Certified two fastbreak layups in return for a pair of easy dunks, the first break in play coming shortly thereafter with the score knotted at six.
They soon find their rhythm, though, and the game finally gets underway when Certified run a passing play to perfection to find a man wide-open under the hoop for a layup. Their point guard, a deceptively quick Andre Miller type known as “Church”, keeps up the good work with a coast-to-coast and-one layup, and the very next play sees Certified stretch their lead to four on a third-chance bucket.
Oddly, however, the appearance of Joe Forte (who wasn’t around for the warm-ups) ten minutes into the game coincides with some horrible basketball from his team. Giving up two open layup looks around a blown two-on-one fastbreak, they fall into bad habits, stepping out and shooting contested jumpers despite the windy conditions. RSM make them pay for it, and they take a 29-23 lead going into halftime.
The Monstars start off right where they finished at the break, opening up their second-half account with another bucket my grandmother would have had little trouble sinking. While Certified’s “Big Eric” keeps his team within striking distance with his rugged play in either paint, the rest of the squad don’t seem so committed to the cause.
A massive putback of a missed Joe Forte shot and a Forte alley-oop pass for a one-handed hammer over two Rich Soil players, however, look as if they may shift the momentum at this crucial stage, but they ultimately have little effect. With five minutes and change on the clock, Certified fall asleep on defence again, repeating the error moments later to effectively put the game out of their reach.
Their desperation is apparent as they begin to intentionally foul with well over two minutes to go, and their inability to find the nylon when they do have a chance to shoot only adds to their problems. A fifteen-point RSM lead is artificially inflated by a string of free throws in the final minutes, and the game ends with the previously promising Certified taking a 63-42 loss.