Eugene Lawrence of Brooklyn has earned one of the four Wild Card spots in the head-to-head, single-elimination Ones Basketball League (OBL) Finals from July 15-16 at The Dollar Loan Center, in Henderson, Nev., with the grand prize of a quarter-of-a-million dollars up for grabs.
Now, the Brownsville native is ready to rectify his mistake after losing to Zach Radz, 9-8, with Radz nailing a game-clinching two-pointer with time running out in a quarterfinal game on day two of the Brooklyn event in May.
“I think I should’ve won the tournament,” said Lawrence, who starred at Lincoln High School in Coney Island along with teammate and former NBA player Sebastian Telfair and went 7-0 in the first day of competition in Brooklyn.
“I should’ve used the rules to my advantage. I should’ve fouled him and sent him to the line, so he couldn’t have beat with the two-point shot (to win the game).”
A 14-year pro out of St. John’s University under then-Head Coach Norm Roberts, Lawrence said he has been preparing his mind and body for the intense competition, Plus, assured that his hoops self-assurance is where it needs to be going into the finals: at the top.
“Honestly, my confidence level is very high,” the 6-foot, 205-pound point guard said in all earnest. “I can’t wait for the finals. It’s going to be super competitive. There are going to be some upsets, but that’s how it goes.”
But the 36-yaer-old Lawrence does not see himself as an underdog. He vowed to perform better this time and said he will lean on his vast pro basketball experiences, remain Zen-like and determined, and play his usual relentless defense to take him to promising land.
“I’m going to stay calm and focused,” Lawrence said. “I’m going to focus on my defense. I’m going to crowd them and use my speed, strength and conditioning to help me win.”
OBL events took place in Houston, Atlanta, Chicago, New York, DMV/Washington and Los Angeles.
A total of 22 players will compete for the $250,000 winner-take-all first prize in the season finale of the inaugural one-on-one league created by Basketball Hall of Famer and 15-year NBA veteran Tracy McGrady.
Additionally, the champ in the OBL Finals winner will be crowned “Ruler of the Court.”
— Jerry Del Priore
Cover Photo: Ones Basketball League (OBL).
Other Photo: St. John’s University Athletics.