Ball Bros Make Professional Debut
LiAngelo and LaMelo Ball made their professional debuts earlier today for Vytautas in the Big Baller Brand Challenge in Prienai, Lithuania. The BBB Challenge is a series of 5 “friendly” games against other Lithuanian teams that range in the competitive level. Today’s game was against Zalgiris-2, the best team in Lithuania’s developmental team. Most of the team’s players are under 18 years of age.
The first game of the BBB Challenge was a spectacle, to say the least. The BBB logo was everywhere, including the center of the court and on the referee’s uniforms. The game was streamed on Facebook Live and announced by Rytis Kazlauskas, (play by play) and Rytis Vysniauskas, (analyst). The tandem was absolutely hilarious. Considering they were announcing the game in a second language, Rytis & Rytis were actually pretty impressive. However, at times Kazlauskas struggled with which Ball bro was on the court.
Some viewers may have thought that was annoying at times, but come on…it’s the Ball family. I thought it just added to the spectacle.
Gelo was announced in the starting-five for Vytautas and actually played a pretty decent game. He finished with a team-leading 19 points, with a handful of rebounds and a few steals to go with it. There were times when Gelo looked out of place on the offensive end of the floor. He missed some easy scoring opportunities. That being said, he looked completely in control on the defensive side. At times he had to play against physically superior players and held his own. The most impressive thing from Gelo’s performance is that it genuinely looked as if he was giving it all the duration of the game and got into a better flow, offensively, as the game progressed.
Melo’s game is the epitome of his father’s personality but on a basketball court. It’s flashy, entertaining, but down-right ridiculous at times. He came off the bench and immediately bricked an NBA range three. There were times when he showed flashes of greatness and times where he showed that he was a 16-year old kid. Melo finished the game with 10 points and a handful of both assists and steals. He was at his best when he used his quickness, especially on fast-breaks, driving to the basket, or going for steals. There were a few instances on defense, however, where he sold out too hard for a steal. He finished the first half with 3 fouls and there were a few instances when the opposing guards blew by him. I still think that LaMelo could be the most talented out of the three Ball brothers, but he needs to mature both on and off the court for that to happen.
Overview & Looking Forward
This wasn’t NBA-level basketball, but it was really entertaining. There was a good amount of sloppy play at times, but there were also a few ballers on the court. The Ball brothers had a couple talented stretch-fours on their Vytautas squad and the coach’s son, Edvinas Seskus looked to be the clear leader. On the opposing Zalgiris-2 side, PG Rokas Jokubaitis was the game’s leading scorer with 31. He could legitimately be a future NBA prospect with the right exposure. He’ll surely get that playing against the Ball’s.
There are four more of these BBB Challenge games, which is where I assume the Ball brothers will get the majority of their playing time. If you didn’t get the chance to check today’s game out, I would certainly tune-in in the future. No matter the NBA future of the younger Ball brothers, the family certainly knows how to put on a show.