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Written By: Mike Mon
Gone are the good old days when a player began and ended their careers with the same program.  While the core of most teams does remain pretty steady, and there are a few traditional organizations out there who aspire to maintain the same personnel year after year, there has been an ever increasing trend towards “free agency” in the NACBA. 

Teams with only one team in the region have an inherent advantage in recruiting top caliber players, since there really isn’t anyone competing for that talent.  Teams like the Texas Ballistics, LA Alpine, Philadelphia Suns, and Chicago Dragons traditionally fall into this category.  So free agency generally hasn’t affected them much over the years. 

Teams within the same city have always shifted players back and forth as everyone is always looking for that missing piece of the pie. Teams in New York, Boston, Toronto, and San Francisco have seen rosters change, but usually not on any major scale.  Once in awhile a big time player switching to a team within the same city might result in a great payoff.  A prime example would be Oak Nguyen’s 2004 switch from the Boston Freemasons to the Boston Hurricanes that resulted in the Hurricanes winning the title in Montreal.  This year, a team from the Big Apple, the NY RL Cruisers, has made a few pickups that may make them a champion. 

In recent years, teams like NY Maximum Output and Arizona Desert Jade have scoured North America to find the best available talent that might take them to the promised land.  This method has been largely successful, with these teams often making deep runs in the playoffs and into Monday action.  In 2007, NY USAB decided to form a second Men’s team, and this move was made possibly by their acquisition of 3 players that had roots in the San Jose, CA area.  The merger was an instant hit, and their B team ended up riding a wave of momentum all the way to the NACBA title.

Beginning in 2008, Washington CYC tossed aside decades of roster stability in an effort to get over the last remaining hurdle.  They were no longer satisfied with merely making the Final Four- they wanted to take home the big prize, so if their experiment self destructs, then it will be a price CYC is willing to pay.  Seattle has also gotten in on the act, as they see how other teams around them just seem to be getting stronger.  If a team like the Bladerunners is diving headfirst into the nationwide free agent talent pool, then you know there’s got to be some merit to it.

Obviously, it is still possible to win the tournament with solely home grown talent.  There is no substitute for team chemistry and you will never get that chemistry going if your players are all residing in different time zones.  But with the stakes getting higher and higher each year, the waiver wire and the free agency pool of players has now become a major topic of discussion and gossip.  The annual talent search seems to be here to stay. 

Here are a few big moves that have happened in the past year:

  • The 2009 Liberty Champion NY USAB Girls team has been renamed the NY Force as USAB has separated the team from its program despite the girls’ NACBA success.  The Force has remained successful, winning (in undefeated fashion) the only tournament they have entered since the split.

  • The 2009 Friendship Champion Philadelphia Suns C endured a break from the Suns organization after some rifting occurred in the City of Brotherly Love.  The newly formed Philadelphia Fastball team has remained solid in tourney competition, winning 2 of the 3 tournaments they have played in.

  • The NY Rockits U team is no longer in existence as their players have been absorbed onto other teams, or stepped up to fill the gaps with the Rockits AIA.  Of note, Ian Yu will bring his fullcourt style to the NY Cruisers.  Bart Li will be suiting up for the NY Crossbearers. Coach Virgilio Borbo will be coaching the NY Sabres Red and the NY Crossbearers.

  • NY Maximum Output is not attending this year. 6-3 Alex Stewart is going to be a huge add for the NY Cruisers.  His athleticism and solid ball skills will transform the Cruisers into a team that could take down Seattle.

  • Texas Ballistics will not take part this year due to a major injury to Norman Wang. Best of luck to Norman and wishes for a speedy recovery.

  • Norcal Hoopaholics/SF Duke are unable to attend due to travel costs.

  • Arizona Desert Jade will return to action in 2011.

  • 6-7 do it all guy Carlos Andrade has rejoined the Toronto Titans after a year with the Toronto Kagers.  His return to the Titans coincides with the appearance of another uber athletic 6-7 tower, Peng Peng.  Throw them in with 6-9 James Chen and you have the tallest frontline in the NACBA.

  • 2009 All-Tournament SF Sandy Yu (Penn State Abington, Philly Lady Suns) has decided to play a year with the Washington CYC China Dolls.  Teammates Michelle Chan and Shannon Yu (2008 All-NACBA) will also make the switch to CYC in hopes that the new surroundings will lead to a better experience.

  • NACBA Top 18’s player, former MVP, and multiple time All-NACBA pick Kenny Yu will return to the NY Rockits AIA after a year in the Friendship division.

  • 2009 All-Tournament pick Yit Mun Lee departs the Phila Suns B for the newly formed Phila Fastball A after many years with the Suns.  He will provide a steadying influence and perimeter toughness for the run and gun Fastball team.

  • 2007 & 2008 All-NACBA swingman Stephen Chang will be a huge addition for the already overstocked Seattle Bladerunners.  With Arizona out of the running this year, it’s surprising more of their players weren’t scooped up by everyone else. Chang’s heart, hustle, and ability to go hard to the cup will make the Bladerunners even more of a favorite.

  • George Chan leaves a starting gig with the NY Crossbearers for a backup role with NY USAB A.  He has played for USAB before (2007), so this move wasn’t a huge surprise.

  • Matthew Tom moves from the Toronto Dragons to the NY Rockits.  This babyfaced two guard can knock down the treyball, so his addition gives the Rockits yet another perimeter threat.

  • Joyce Li exits the NY Sabres after spending the past 3 years under their umbrella.  This shooting guard decided to join the more freelance NY Force team as they hope to give teams in the Women’s Open a run for the money.  She now has the green light to fire it up at will.

  • Combo guard Mike Yih won a title with the Boston Hurricanes but has now moved out to the west coast and will spend this Memorial Day weekend with the Cali Davis Dynasty.  He will bring big time experience and clutch performances to this young ballclub.

  • Hulk-strong 6-5 pivotman Brian Liang makes a comeback this year with Washington CYC.  After spending time with the SF Duke and various teams (USAB/Dreamleague) over the years, Brian’s abilities and talents look to be a good fit with a CYC team that could run the course.

  • Stephen Tee, a former All-City performer in his SF high school days and a current D-2 player at Holy Names, will not be suiting up as he did last year for SF Dreamleague.  Instead, he will bring his exciting gamestyle to the Cali Davis Dynasty.  Tee, Mike Yih, and Quentin Wu are going to be great to watch.

  • The SF ArcAngels have added Angie Wong (California-Berkeley, SF Red Coach) to an all-star lineup.  She makes a big return to the NACBAIT after taking a few years off.  Angie might be the big factor in whether or not the ArcAngels can 3-peat this thing.