Steve Nash may be the catalyst behind the Crusaders offense, but Tom Chambers has emerged as a first-class finisher in the Phoenix Suns All-Time Tournament. After leading the way in the opening round with 26 points, the four-time All-Star proved to be the difference in the team's semi-finals matchup, posting a double-double against sharp-shooting Amar'ediculous to vault the Orange Crusaders into the championship game.
The OC's other big man, Shaquille O'Neal, revved the engines in the early going, dropping nine points in the first quarter to push the Crusaders out to a seven-point lead. Contributions from role players Kurt Thomas, Eddie House and Raja Bell helped the Crusaders augment this advantage heading into halftime, holding a 59-51 lead at the break.
Amar'ediculous would respond, and respond with vigor, in the third quarter, with the team's namesake Amar'e Stoudemire and Penny Hardaway cashing in on the Crusaders' lack of explosiveness by slashing and dashing their way to the rim. Speedster Leandro Barbosa joined the assault, and suddenly Amar'ediculous had cut the deficit to two.
Alas, Nash's command and the Crusaders' proficiency in the paint was too tall of an order to overcome, and an unexpected downtown hot streak from Bell did not help matters for Amar'ediculous. With a clutch performance from the charity stripe by Chambers, the No. 5 seed is sent packing with a 114-109 defeat.
Chambers again paced the Crusaders, throwing in 33 points, with a 15-for-16 feat from the free-throw line, and 11 rebounds. Nash submitted another gem with 13 points and 12 dimes, with solid assistance from Bell (17 points) and O'Neal (19 points, nine boards). In the losing effort, Barbosa poured in 23 points for Amar'ediculous.
Rosters: The Orange Crusaders (GM: Brad Faye) - Amar'ediculous (GM: Bob Adlhoch)
Player of the game: Tom Chambers (33 points, 11 rebounds)
Winning Percentage of 1,001 Simulations: The Orange Crusaders 57.6% - Amar'ediculous 42.4%
Average Score of 1,001 Simulations: The Orange Crusaders 114.9 - Amar'ediculous 112.5