Despite Loss to Heat Check Gaming, Hornets Venom Still Clinches Playoff Berth

Charlotte Becomes Second-Ever NBA 2K League Expansion Team to Qualify for Postseason

Although it was a tough showing on the court for Hornets Venom GT against Heat Check Gaming on Thursday night, losses by both T-Wolves Gaming and Blazer 5 Gaming were more than enough to help the team automatically lock up a coveted postseason berth.

Things started out well for Charlotte in Game 1, as the visitors turned a four-point halftime lead over Miami into a 54-40 advantage by the end of the third quarter. Guard Justin “Snubby” Stemerman scored 14 of the team’s 23 points in the frame and Hornets Venom rolled to an easy 78-54 victory.

Snubby finished the outing with 33 points and six assists and center Xavier “Type” Vescovi added 12 points, 13 rebounds, six assists, two steals and a season-high eight blocks. Forward Zaeya “Zae” Ishak also tallied 12 points and 13 rebounds, while Miami center Juan “Hotshot” Gonzalez racked up 14 points, 17 rebounds, five assists and five blocks for the double-double.

Tied after both the first and second quarters of Game 2, Miami slowly began pulling away with an 11-3 run to close out the third, opening up a 61-52 lead. Charlotte cut the deficit to four by the 30-second mark before Hotshot pump-faked in a layup to beat the shot clock, locking up an eventual 75-70 victory.

Snubby just missed a second straight 30-point game, finishing with 29 points and five assists in the loss. Type totaled 15 points, 14 rebounds and nine assists in a near-triple-double performance with Zae also scoring in double figures (11 points). Guard Glenn “GlennRatty” Wilkerson led Heat Check Gaming with 37 points and Hotshot added 13 points, 17 rebounds, six assists and six blocks.

Down seven towards the end of the third quarter of Game 3, Heat Check ripped off an 8-0 run to take a 44-43 lead with five minutes remaining in regulation. Charlotte stayed within one or two possessions the rest of the way, but just couldn’t string together a few momentum-swinging plays or key stops, sealing a 61-58 defeat and series loss.

Snubby (34 points), Type (10 points and 18 rebounds) and guard Alex “Expose” Whelan (10 points) all had double-digit scoring showings in the loss. GlennRatty (22), guard Abdafatah “TBShiftay” Noman (17 points) and Hotshot (12 points, 14 rebounds and six blocks) led the way for the hosts in the reverse sweep.

Charlotte combined for 25 turnovers in its two losses after coughing it up a mere seven times in Game 1. The squad also went just 1-of-11 from three (nine percent) in the Game 3 loss following a 20-of-39 clip across the opening two contests of the evening (51 percent).

About 20 minutes after the disappointing loss, Blazer 5 Gaming and T-Wolves Gaming both dropped their respective matchups with Magic Gaming and 76ers GC, locking Charlotte into the playoffs. A win tonight by Bucks GC over Mavs Gaming would make Hornets Venom the eighth seed and a loss by Milwaukee would move the squad to seventh.

Hornets Venom will be back in action for its first postseason game beginning on Thursday, Aug. 22 against a still to-be-determined opponent. Catch the action on ESPN mobile, Twitch.TV/NBA2KLeague or YouTube Gaming.

by Sam Perley