(By Craig Fata; Photo Credit: Mick Lite)
Talk about a family feud.
The St. Louis RiverSharks and Gateway Steam, sharing a team hotel, practice facility, and home game venue, have been like two brothers sharing a bedroom and going to the same school all season long.
But with two games to play against each other in the final week of the Midwest Professional Basketball Association regular season, those brothers are going to be more like the Hatfields and the McCoys, as both teams have a critical need for wins to secure postseason standing.
The RiverSharks need to win both games in order to lock up a first-place regular-season finish, and the top overall seed in the playoffs. If St. Louis drops one of the games, and the Bloomington Flex win their game Thursday night against Windy City, the Flex would take the top seed.
Gateway currently sits in the fourth and final playoff spot. With one win, the Steam would lock up the fourth seed, but if the Groove beat the Flex, and the Steam lose both games to the RiverSharks, Gateway would be out of the playoffs and the Groove would sneak in on the third tiebreaker, overall point differential.
“We are focused on ourselves locking up a playoff spot,” said Steam head coach Durrell Robinson. “We had a very good practice [Tuesday], and hopefully we can transfer that to our game against the RiverSharks. We have created a bond here in St. Louis, but we are both fighting for something. Like brothers, we will both fight hard—and then shake hands afterwards,” Robinson said.
The teams meet Wednesday at Center St. Louis, a multi-purpose athletic facility in south suburban Afton, Missouri. The game will be the third of the season between the league’s two St. Louis clubs, with the RiverSharks winning the first two meetings 108-96 on January 2 in the MPBA’s inaugural game, and 122-81 on February 5.
The second game—the final regular-season game of the first inaugural campaign—will take place on Tuesday, April 7, also at Center St. Louis.
“It’s appropriate that these two teams meet in the final game of the regular season,” said MPBA Commissioner Ed Schumer. “They played in our inaugural game, and now, they meet on the last day of the season to see who finishes in first place. I couldn’t have written a better script for our first season,” Schumer said.