2018 FBA Season/18.01.02/BLV@QNS/Capsule

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“This [expletive] kept it a secret for months!” Sterling Bengtzing pointed at his laughing father on the post-game interview, Voodoo players lined up, two polecats front and center. Even if it was on the usually deserted away team’s side (local news sell like hotcakes), this one was a full house all but focused on the two mustelids and the first game for the East Conference in the new year.

Even before the first step on the hardwood on the brand new 2018, big news immediately came knocking on one notorious FBA family, the Bengtzings, as it was known that on that night, they would honor the head of the family, retired FBA player Ferdinand, shelving #57 for years to come; the second retired number this season, after All-Star Guard and Newark royalty, Valencia Zeraus.

“Dunphy (General Manager Christopher Dunphy) just called me some months ago, figured to have a leisure day, meet up, talk, all good all nice, two old men relaxing… then he says “Oh, we want to retire your number”. I was like… me? why me?” Ferdinand laughed. “It is furs like Davis and Hopper and Zeraus two months ago who get numbers retired, but… me? But well… it is the dream of many old, senile...frail men and women that have played on this league...”

“Milk up the drama, pappa...”

The elder polecat tugged one of the strands of hair from his laughing son. “...It is their dream to have their efforts recognized to this point. So I accepted… and scheduled it for tonight. Wanted to surprise the little man...”

And for sure, the visitors did surprise. As soon as the ball was tossed, the Voodoo was pretty unforgiving, all sturdily orchestrated by the also former Newark-er Lee Evans.

“I might have been a small fry on my time here, but there’s always a little speck one can sniff out and exploit.” Evans replied when asked if his time in the Pride affected his approach. “Despite all that, we had a factor all along: a loud polecat coked up in excitement and Red Bull.”

The former Howler now-Voodoo bigfur never shied away from his connection to his hometown, and that was evident on how much more enthusiastic the audience received the visitors, traditional jeering and boos almost nonexistant. “If you nurture New York, New York will come back to you. Dad taught me that if love my living place, it will pay you back. So whoever only hung out in the safe spaces in Newark would be [expletive].”

Somewhat controversially, even Ferdinand himself joined the ranks of lime green and burgundy on his own subtle way, coordinating blazers and shirts. “I told Dunphy that tonight might be about me and the life I devoted to the Pride… but as a family man, my allegiance is to my son first and foremost. Tonight I am with the Voodoo as much as I have always been with New York. They understand...” the mustelid smiled.

Ending the first half 80-50 was surely the way Bengtzings would have wanted it so, the newly found Kaspar Kuusik keeping a strong presence in the woods, displaying his #1 draft class status loud and clearly, while Bengtzing and Derek Kim were at 100% accuracy to that point, while Adam Tevela shone for the Pride, managing to squeeze points in the form of free throws from several players.

“This is the third time I stepped on Pride territory, and there’s always this voice in my head that yells ‘don’t [expletive] this up, everyone you know is watching!’ that goes off as soon as we hit Newark International. This was the time I would finally step up and make the hometown proud, and that’s what I did” said Sterling, who started the second round with a gold and black sleeve (which he did clear up was Newark-colored and not Queens) on the second half of the around.

Despite the centric celebrations of the night and the target of guest of honor’s support, the Pride still would not roll down and accept defeat after such lead, cranking the heat up and putting pressure on the visitors. Tevela easily milked for more free throws, especially from Evans’ stumbles, as well as the ball being forced from Knutten and Kuusik. Despite the great attempts to keep the home score down, with Feckle’s stealing and Bengzting’s perfect shooting game, the Pride secured a higher scoring third quarter, going for blood on the final stretch.

The game was simple, making sure every shot the Voodoo did was risky and clumsy, putting the efforts from the first half at risk. Just as they tied the score, Sterling got fouled by Hedvin Eklund after one of his risky shots managed to sink in, putting him on the line for an extra two points.

“All I heard was my heart pounding, I could not process anything around me, not even the score we had. I had to win on my hometown once and for all.” Sterling commented. “...and I did it… I finally did it. On the night we honor the best FBA player there is… we did it”. Despite the valiant effort from the home team, it was the Voodoo taking away with the important win. While the polecat was ecstatic from the win, his teammates described the amusement they had when they saw Sterling not digesting the fact he was the Player of the Game.

“I pretty much grabbed his head and yelled ‘LOOK, BENGTZING!’ at the announcements!” Gerrit-Jan Pretorius recalled. All the excitement concluded to the father-son embrace at the beginning of the interview.

“What words would you want to say to the league to cap off this night, Sterling? Ferdinand?”

“The Pride have [expletive] up before. The Pride have [expletive] up a lot before and they still did. But Dunphy ain’t the main of that chapter, more like a passenger. So if this is how Newark (sic) under him is gonna look… They got time to steer this boat in the right direction… I gotta sink it, but it would be a nice boat nonetheless... Thanks for this.” Sterling winked at the crowd.

Ferdinand nodded, the question now directed to him. “This one… goes to everyone who is struggling. Because I was there once, and I know how frustrating it is to lose… but you keep working with your head held high, for winning is all but fruitless if you do not upkeep your ethic and surroundings, as I know Sterling has been doing all this time. Yes, I won a ring and got this huge honor thanks to Dunphy, but I would truly not be here if it was not for my wife, my son, and all the people in New Jersey and New York who made this possible; whoever has lost or feels lost, you will one day be in front of thousand (sic) furs and say ‘I made it, heja!’”

While the audience clapped and gave their regards, many noticed how fixated Sterling’s attention was on his father, and how determined he looked as they all departed. Many say he came out of there convinced this was his year.

~Z. Donovan

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