Playoff Time At Nike Pro City

NBA players may be locked out, and college basketball may not tip-off for another three months, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t hoops to watch.

After a regular season that featured overtime contests, a surprise appearance from Kevin Durant, and a 60-point performance from John Lucas III, Nike Pro City is just heating up as the playoffs begin tonight at Manhattan’s Baruch College.

Of the league’s eight original teams, four have moved on to the playoffs: United Brooklyn, Dyckman/NYAC, Primetime, and The Franchise. Two will remain after tonight’s two semifinal matchups, and a champion will be crowned Thursday.

The postseason kicks off this evening at 6:30 when the Danny Green-led Primetime squad faces off against a Dyckman team featuring Marshon Brooks and Ryan Gomes.

Brooks, who was selected in June’s NBA Draft by the Celtics at No. 25 and then traded to the Nets, was one of Pro City’s top regular season performers. The 6-5 shooting guard made New Jersey fans salivate when he poured in 48 points on 32 attempts in his Pro City debut.

Brooks’ outburst, however, was overshadowed last week when Durant and Lucas went head to head. Playing in front of a capacity crowd at Baruch’s ARC Arena, the two-time scoring champ went for 41, including a last-second three-pointer that sent the contest to overtime. But Lucas won the individual battle, pouring in 60 points on 41 shots.

“John Lucas, hands down, has been the best player this summer,” says Pro City Director Raymond Diaz.

Fans, however, won’t see Lucas tonight as his squad, Big Apple Basketball, failed to advance to the postseason, which begs the question: Was the rest of the team’s roster filled with guys on loan from the Washington Generals?

The second semifinal — set to begin at 8:30 — pits a pair of talented backcourts against each other with United Brooklyn taking on The Franchise. Led by talented guards Andre Barrett and Sundiata Gaines, The Franchise will look to upset the top-seeded United Brooklyn squad that’s coming off a double-OT victory over Dyckman last Thursday. Brooklyn will counter with two talented guards of its own: Gary Ervin and Eugene Lawrence.

The winners of tonight’s matchups will meet in the championship, scheduled for Thursday at 7. Doors will open at Baruch’s ARC Arena on 55 Lexington Avenue around 5:30

“I advise everybody to get there early,” says Diaz. “I’m just hoping for two exciting games that people can walk away and feel that they’ve been entertained.”

Will you check it out?

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