Dave Farber, Bryan Richardson and Juan Bernal sat around a table at Twin Peaks in Altamonte in the fading daylight hours of Sunday August 7. It was somber as Pedro’s Posse had just dropped a 3rd straight game, and sat 5-5 on the season. The euphoria of last season’s run and Sweet 16 TBT 2016 showing seemed remote as it would take a massive effort to just make the playoffs this season. Jason Williams was suspended, and likely wouldn’t play the rest of the season, Rocky Trice was in hospital and we only had one substantial contributor from last season’s team remaining- Bryan Richardson, the Red Bull and vodka-fueled super shooter, who, for various reasons, was a shell of himself for most of the season. There was some serious thought, albeit for a very brief period of time (maybe 2-3 minutes) of mailing in the rest of the season.
Jason’s “suspension” was totally ludicrous, robbing Pedro’s Posse of its enigmatic talisman and irreparably damaging the psyche of the team. 28 different players suited up through 14 games, and six of them were lost with season ending injuries including promising newcomers, Spencer Rivers and Schuyler Rimmer. The season started two weeks later than usual causing additional difficulties with guys are leaving to go overseas and back to college. The pool of available talent dwindles as the month goes along. But in the desperate hours, Juan refused to quit. This is what real organizations and the spirit of Pedro’s Posse is made of- the grind, the hustle and everything that comes with it, whether you’re 16-0 or 8-6 (like we were in 2014, and grinded to make the Finals), you have to let situations play themselves out and keep fighting. And that’s exactly what we did.
With so many veterans injured or otherwise unavailable, we dug deeper into the 407 talent pool, and gave birth to the next generation of Pedro’s Posse- Dayon Griffin, Adonys Henriquez, Fletcher Magee, Brett Comer, Joe Chealey and Chris Ferguson all played well. We got cameos from veterans Deividas Dulkys, Luke Loucks, founding members John Pietkiewicz, DJ Ferguson, and the timely return to health of Rocky Trice. We lost our first game after the Twin Peaks soul searching, but won our next two to get to the playoffs at 7-6. We played surprisingly cohesive basketball and rediscovered our identity.
Our final regular season game was for seed, and again we faced adversity in the unpleasant guise of attrition, injury and unavailability. We went into our final regular season game with 6 players- 3 of whom Dave Farber, Nate Moran and Luis Brito are limited minutes role players. We started out beautifully and were up 24 midway through the third quarter. But 20 missed free throws, lack of execution and depth plagued us and we were in a dogfight. We were up 2 with 5 seconds to go, and Space Coast Stars missed a contested layup at the buzzer and we held on to a 72-70 win to clinch a three way tie for the 2nd seed.
Many things in the Pro-Am are all about circumstance, and throughout the season and prior, we have been on the wrong side of many circumstances.
In 2010- Guys missing flights and didn’t get back in time for games.
2013- Courtney Lee gets hurt on the morning of the play-offs and Nick Calathes plays with a 100 degree fever. Despite finishing the season 13-1, we lose in the first round of the playoffs.
2014- Rocky misses the championship game, Joey gets hurt in the first five minutes of the title game and we lose by 7 despite playing our third game that day.
2015- Rocky and Jason miss the championship after both getting hurt in the semifinal and we lose on a buzzer beater in overtime to ruin a perfect season.
Our semifinal playoff game on Sunday was rescheduled to Monday- where we had 8 solid guys and grinded out an overtime win, in what was very reminiscent of 2015 semifinal. We didn’t play well and had a couple of guys struggle offensively, but we fought hard, made some key stops at the end and Bryan Richardson hit some big shots in the 4th quarter and overtime. Deividas Dulkys was dreadful offensively, but our faith in him was rewarded with his defensive effort throughout the game, including a steal on a potential game winning possession for them.
We’ve been on the wrong side of many circumstances and have had a ton of adversity this season between various factors, but here we are. We showed our true colors. We fought and caught some breaks in the process. Third final in a row, 4th in 6, 5th in 8. Let’s finish this one.