2018 FBA Season/18.05.14/PIT@TEN/Capsule
After a lackluster performance from Terrence Tolliver (Pronghorn, G) in Game 4, Coach Ngozi surprised fans by benching the antelope in favor of Tyrone Gale (Horse, G/F), the sophomore horse who has spent most of the season impressing from the sixth fur position but has little experience as a starter. Rumors swirling through the equine grapevine had it that the switch was ordered by the big horse himself, Pittsburgh Keystones General Manager Mark S. Quintaux. Quintaux is a known supporter of increased equine involvement in the FBA, and has pursued free agents such as Christiaan Hengst (Friesian Horse, C/F) and Waylon Stone (Horse, C) over other, subjectively more talented candidates.
With the switch the Keystones' starting line horsepower was literally doubled. Meanwhile, the Tennessee Moonshiners' starting line alligatorpower was literally halved. With Darius Cole (Alligator, C) out with a thigh injury Coach Couture moved Hal Dufrain (American Alligator, F/C) to center and promoted Marshall Anderson-Rhodes (Clouded Leopard, F) to starting power forward.
Whatever the reason, the Keystones' gambit paid off in Game 5. On the brink of elimination and playing in perhaps the biggest game of his career, Gale came through. The Canadian percheron proved a foil to Tennessee shooting guard Jonas McMillan (Timber Wolf, G/F) and a perfect complement to the pinpoint passing of Randy Catcher (Bullfrog, G) (13 assists) and the irrepressible shooting of Shirley Takamoto (Jaguar, F/G) (23 points).
Nevertheless, the Moonshiners still might have finished off the Keystones and the series and if not for an unexpected hero for the Pennsylvanians in the form of Alan Murphy (Kangaroo, F). A fixture in the franchise, the marsupial delivered an electric performance in the second quarter that helped elevate the visitors to a 55-41 lead at halftime. In just under 8 minutes on the court, Murphy racked up 17 points as he went a shocking 7-for-9, including 3-for-4 from 3-point range. The 'roo may be determined to do whatever it takes to get his championship ring before age catches up with him.
The 14 point halftime deficit proved too much to overcome, and not even a 28 point, 11 assist performance from star Hank Sawyer (Virginia Opossum, G) could prevent the Keystones from cantering to a 115-102 victory in Game 5. The series returns to Pittsburgh for Game 6 on Wednesday with the Moonshiners still clinging to a 3-2 series lead.
-S. St. James