HENRY MILLER | STAFF WRITER
EDINBURG — RGV Vipers coach Joseph Blair admitted after his team’s 127-85 victory over South Bay at Bert Ogden Arena that it was the most complete game of the season by his squad. Yet, he was quick to follow that up.
“This isn’t the same team we’re going to face at South Bay next time,” he said. “They had some starters, some key personnel missing. They’ll be at home and they will come at us with more energy.”
Still, just by looking at the box score, the results were significant and impressive.
The Vipers had 37 assists on 47 baskets. That may be the biggest takeaway for Blair and his squad.
“When we move the ball around and play our style of offense, we are going to get better looks and better shots,” Blair said. “That’s what happened tonight. We still had too many turnovers (16) but when you have that many assist, you can overcome some of those turnovers
RGV came into the game having won four straight contests. The win over South Bay tied the team’s longest win streak of the season at five. It was also the third straight game that the Vipers gave up fewer than 90 points, and fourth straight without allowing triple digits in scoring only surrendering 103 in the first game of the five-game streak.
The Vipers also outrebounded the Lakers 60-32, more than doubled them in steals (16-7) and had six blocks to just one for South Bay.
The game was never really close. The Vipers jumped out to an 8-0 lead, pushed it to 16-3 midway through the first quarter and grabbed a 30-9 first-quarter advantage following a Roger Moute a Bidias monster one-handed dunk at the end of the quarter.
Bidias was acquired in a trade with the Raptors 905. He arrived in town on Saturday, played nearly 20 minutes vs. South Bay and connected on eight of nine shots to go with three assists, a steal and four rebounds. His aggressive presence had an immediate impact.
“I’m a slasher and cutter and my strength is getting to the basket,” Bidias said. “That coaching staff and players just made me feel comfortable right away out there on the court and I just played my game.”
The Vipers also acquired Jacobi Boykins as an unrestricted free agent. He was cleared just earlier in the day and Blair decided to limit his minutes. Known as a dangerous 3-point shooter, he made that obvious, taking one shot just 30 seconds into his playing time and knocking it down from beyond the arc.”
My teammates told me to just shoot it,” he said. “I liked that.”
The Vipers pushed the lead to as many as 48 in the second half, South Bay not getting any closer than 14 at 68-54 in the third quarter. Blair had seen enough badly played third quarters this season to call timeout after a couple of unwarranted turnovers.
“I’ve seen us give other teams seven straight possession at a time in the third quarter so I wanted that to not happen and took a timeout,” he said. “It seemed to have calmed the storm.”
The Vipers went on a 21-6 run to end the quarter and led 91-62 after three, and the rout continued into the fourth.
Six players reached double figures in scoring for the Vipers. Michael Frazier led the way with 20 points, followed by Bruno Caboclo with 18, Gary Payton II with 17 and Bidias 16 with from off the bench.
Payton added 11 rebounds, six assists and six steals. 7-footer Isaiah Hartenstein added 14 points, nine rebounds and six assists. Dakari Tucker also tied for the team lead with six assists.
The Vipers return to action with back-to-back home games Friday and Saturday. On Friday, they play the Westchester Knicks; on Saturday they host the Santa Cruz Warriors. Both games are scheduled for a 7 p.m. tipoff. The win improved the Vipers to 14-9 on the season, 3.5 games behind the first place Oklahoma City Blue at 18-6, the league’s best record.