Upper Darby, PA – When the final buzzer sounded last night, the 10th season of the PGBL recorded a new champion and chapter in the league’s history. The Kings, one of the oldest member teams of the league had traveled the road to the championship more than any other in league history, only to come up short each time. This moment, however, belonged to them, and especially their captain Bill Zonios, who showed up confident and determined not to let this one get away.
Kings 69, Boardwalk Empire 54
The Cinderella team Boardwalk Empire met up with the veteran Kings last night. Through much of the first three-quarters, they challenged and attacked the Kings who led the entire game. Nick Kafkalas and Roman Papademetriou combined to keep their team close in the first half, scoring 22 of their team’s 26 points. But that dream ended, as they ran out of steam midway through the second half. Led by game MVP Alex Veronis and Jimmy Kemmerer, the Kings dominated both outside the perimeter and inside the paint.
Each time the Empire made a run at the Kings, the Kings regrouped following a timeout, and then rebuilt their lead, staying ahead by approximately five points. That relentless effort kept Boardwalk Empire fans hopes alive and wondering if they could steal this one away from the Kings. With a minute to go to halftime, the Empire had gotten within a bucket, before they turned the ball over twice. The Kings capitalized on those turnovers and extended their lead again to 33-26. Perhaps it was a metaphor for the evening and things to come.
When the second half kicked off, the game picked up right where it ended. The Kings would build a lead, and the Empire would make a run and get back in the game, usually within a couple of points. But legs tired on the Empire’s side and buckets dropped consistently for the Kings. And being veterans was key here for the Kings, who found their moment and pace when team captain Bill Zonios took control of his team around the eight-minute mark of the second half. He kept them focused by calling out to them to take control of the game and slow the tempo when necessary. When they saw it was time, they put on a final run that gave them an 18 point lead. With just a few minutes left to play, the Kings began to celebrate. After so many heartbreaking years, the Kings had finally brought it home. They had kicked the monkey off their backs and became champions.
For their captain Bill Zonios, the evening also ended a chapter in his life. It was his final night as co-commissioner of the PGBL. Along with partner and friend John Vasiliou, the two launched the league ten years ago. Vasiliou had won a championship with the Sixers, but for Zonios, the dream evaded him till this final evening where the league was celebrating its 10th anniversary. Although they will no longer be co-commissioners, they will both continue to participate in the league as players.