Every week, we will give weekly news and notes on the JBA USA squad as they travel around the world.
JBA USA MAKES ROSTER CHANGES
Monday’s game against Alytaus-Dzukija was a tale of two halves.
Once the field general, LaMelo Ball, was ejected from the game after an altercation with Mindaugas Susinskas — the momentum changed, and it didn’t help that the bigs fouled out as well. Rebounding became an issue again as did a lack of defense as Dzukija came from 18 points behind to take the victory over JBA USA.
Changes had to be made and none of it was performance based. Body language on the bench, in practice and off the court were noticed by the coaching staff and the boss, LaVar Ball.
On top of attitude problems, a lack of responsibility, being on time for practice or the team bus — were also a factor.
JBA USA made the decision to send three players home for the above reasons.
Cameron Clark, JaMicheal Morgan and Greg Floyd Jr. were given their release from JBA USA and sent home following Wednesday’s morning practice. The decision shocked the team and woke them up. The evening practice was different, but in a positive way.
“It looks like it got their attention,” JBA USA coach Doyle Balthazar said. “We have tried to explain to them that this is a business and this is your job. You have to be a professional on and off the court. To be blunt, some of the players just weren’t ready for this. Some changes had to be made.”
One of the players released surprised fans. Greg Floyd, who led the JBA League in rebounds, made the biggest impact out of the three, including hitting the game-winning shot in the opener against Svendborg.
LYLE OUT WITH FACIAL INJURY
Deon Lyle suffered a facial injury in the first quarter of Monday’s game when he went up for a block and was elbowed hard in the mouth. The elbow damaged Lyle’s teeth, cutting his lip.
Lyle left the game and went to a nearby hospital to get stitches on his lower lip. He is expected to miss a week of action and will require to play with a mouthpiece for the rest of the trip.
“We went to double team the ball,” Lyle said. “We split the trap and came down the lane. I went to make a play on the ball and got straight up. I got a hand on the ball and blocked it, but with his off hand, he rocked his elbow in and it split through my lip and pushed my teeth in. I had to go to the ER to get surgery. I thought it was a dirty play, but I can’t speak on his behalf. That is going to happen when we are playing overseas. They play a lot more physical game. It’s tough, but that’s the life of basketball. I’m just glad I only have to sit out about a week.”
With Lyle out, the active roster is now at 10. Lyle joins Nate Morris on the injury list. Morris is back in the United States nursing a knee injury.
MELO APOLOGIZES FOR MONDAY INCIDENT
A team isn’t based on one player, but the altercation during Monday’s game against Dzukija definitely changed the tune of the game for JBA USA.
With less than nine minutes left in the third quarter, LaMelo Ball drove to the hoop and went out of bounds. Melo was expecting a foul call and asked the referee for one, but instead was greeted to a tap on the back of his head from Susinskas. Melo responded by slapping Susinskas and throwing a punch, which ensued a bench-clearing altercation.
Both Melo and Susinskas were ejected.
“I’m disappointed in what happened on the court, mostly because it hurt my team and it cost us a win,” said Melo in a statement. “Alytus is a fine team. I don’t have a problem with any of their players. I should have reacted differently. All this is in the past now. I will learn from this and move forward.”
THE BALL BROTHERS ENJOYING THEIR TRIP IN LITHUANIA
After playing a few months in Lithuania for BC Vytautas, the Ball brothers are back, but this time they are rocking the red, white and blue for JBA USA.
LiAngelo and LaMelo are only spending two weeks in Lithuania, but it is a nice homecoming for both the brothers who began their professional careers in the same country earlier this year.
“It feels good to return to Lithuania,” Gelo said. “To be back with this team and these guys, it’s more fun this time. There’s no adjustments. We aren’t really worried about the type of play here. We are worried about how we play. We aren’t worried what teams have done here the first time I was here.”
Gelo’s father agrees that their return to Lithuania is great, but even more so now since they can play their style of basketball.
“The first time here was basically an obligation,” said Lavar Ball. “We had to be here a certain time, we have to roll when they roll, but the second one is better. My boys can play their style, and they’re around their peers. When my boys are happy, I’m happy.”
The Ball Brothers will look to lead their squad on Friday in Lithuania in a game that will not be live streamed on Facebook.
JBA USA will next head to Latvia to take on Liepaja at the Liepaja Olympic Center on Monday October 8 at 12:30 pm EST on the JBA Facebook page.
Manny Alvarez is a staff writer for the JBA League. Follow him on Twitter @MAlvarez02