It’s safe to say that the new Rising Stars format is a hit.
Team Barry won twice in a row and reached the ultimate total score of 75 to win the first championship in the new mini-tournament set up. He won his first match 50-48 and his second 25-20.
Under the new format, 28 rookies, sophomores, and G-League Ignite players were split into four teams and faced off in a single elimination bracket. The semi-final was played with a target score of 50 and the championship round was played at 25.
After leading the way in the first round, Cade Cunningham of the Pistons once again carried his team to the final. While the first two games went evenly, the championship game saw a lot more swings in momentum.
Team Isiah led 18-12 at the halfway mark, putting them on course to claim the crown. Team Barry wasn’t going to let that happen, however; The host Cavaliers’ Evan Mobley threw a dunk to cut the deficit to four, and the Rockets’ Alperen Sengun conceded a three on their next possession to cut it to one.
After a turnover by Saddiq Bey of the Pistons, Jae’Sean Tate – who hit the winner of Team Barry’s semi-final victory – converted a layup and one over a penny from Cunningham to give to Team Barry the lead for the first time. since it was 3-2.
The Heat’s Precious Achiuwa hit a layup on the next possession for Team Isiah to tie it at 20-20. Dyson Daniels, representing the G-League Ignite, hit a free throw to set them up before replacing the Magic’s Franz Wagner.
On the next possession, Jaden Hardy – also representing the Ignite – had the ball stolen by Tate, and Cunningham picked it up and blasted off the ground. He found Cleveland’s Isaac Okoro, who quickly got him back to Cunningham wide open beyond the arc, and last summer’s top overall pick drilled the triple to make it 24-20 and put the Isiah team on the ropes.
Team Isiah was unable to score their next time, and Cunningham stole the ball after an offensive rebound. He passed it to Wagner, who was fouled and knocked down his first shot from the free throw line to win the game.
Cunningham finished with five points, two rebounds and three assists in a well-rounded Team Barry effort. Tate and Mobley also scored five points, and Daniels had four points, three rebounds and two assists.
Achiuwa led all scorers with 12 points while grabbing three rebounds. The Pistons’ Bey added five points and the Kings’ Tyrese Haliburton had four assists, four rebounds and two steals.