In one corner stood Joe Johnson, a seven-time NBA All-Star renowned for his one-on-one scoring and clutch prowess. In the other stood Marcus Keene, an undrafted guard out of Central Michigan who last played professionally in Taiwan. In the annals of clutch showdowns, you could hardly find a more one-sided matchup. It was almost literally David vs. Goliath; Johnson, at 6-7, stood 10 inches over the 5-9 Keene. The same could be said of their teams. Johnson’s Overseas Elite won The Basketball Tournament four years in a row from 2015 through 2018. Keene’s Sideline Cancer entered as a No. 22 seed in a 24-team tournament.
But when the two went head-to-head in the semifinals, Keene and Sideline Cancer stunned Overseas Elite in the biggest sports upset since coronavirus ground most leagues to a halt. In an Elam Ending setting with 67 as the target score, Keene pulled up from well behind the 3-point line down 62-61 and drilled this shot to give himself 22 points for the game and put his team three points away from the victory.
After Johnson took the lead back with a 3-point play, it was ultimately Mo Creek that sealed the victory with a 3-pointer of his own, sealing the upset the sort of celebration we haven’t seen in months.
Sideline Cancer will now face the Golden Eagles, a team comprised of Marquette alumni, for the championship. The winner splits a $1 million prize amongst themselves, while the loser receives nothing. The Golden Eagles were runners up last year as well. This is the second consecutive tournament in which Overseas Elite has been upset in the semifinals.
With the NBA on hiatus and the NCAA tournament canceled, it has been months since a basketball game has been able to give fans this sort of excitement. Hopefully, as the first such moment since the coronavirus pandemic began, this storybook ending and run will prove as the harbinger of sports’ return at large.