EDINBURG — Kerwin Roach describes the RGV Vipers offense as “video-game like.”
Daeshon Francis’ eyes light up when asked about the offense. “It brings out the best part of my game — high-paced, run, get to the corner and shoot a lot,” he said.
For Australian William McDowell-White, it’s a whole new world.
“I don’t think any shot is a bad shot,” McDowell-White said. “Our pace and athleticism will work toward our favor.”
The defending NBA G League champion Vipers have lived and died (mostly lived) by the 3-pointer and the savage pace the team runs for 48 minutes. That pace begins again as the Vipers play their season opener at 7:30 tonight at Austin. They’ll return home for a 7:30 p.m. home season-opener Saturday, again against Austin.
RGV showed some of that pace during Saturday’s exhibition game and wide-open offense against Mexico Cibacopa. The Vipers took 52 3-pointers, which was 55% of their total shot attempts. They also scored 44 points off their opponent’s turnovers and collected 16 steals, which mostly turned into fast breaks.
Last year, the Vipers had the top three spots for most 3-pointers made in a game with 22, 21 and 20. They sank 728 3-pointers on the season, only second to the Delaware Blue Coats’ 735, while taking more attempts than any team with 2,131. The Blue Coats were second in that category with 2,031. Erie was next in line with 1836, almost 300 fewer attempts.
“I’d like us to shoot even more this year,” first-year Vipers head coach Mahmoud Abdelfattah said. “It all starts with playing solid defense, not giving up anything easy and then getting up the floor. We don’t want the ball to touch the floor and we want to push the pace more and more.”
Francis, a newcomer to the Vipers, said he couldn’t think of a place that would better prepare him to make the jump to the next level.
“Oh man, they really get up and down here,” said the Indianapolis native, who played college at UT Permian Basin in Odessa, also known for a hectic pace. “This style defines my game — defense first and get out in transition. You just can’t get enough shots and Coach is preaching to us every single day, fast pace, pressure defense. No other system would have been better for me than this one.”
The Vipers tied Long Island, Oklahoma City and Santa Cruz for the best record in the league last year, going 34-16. They then beat Santa Cruz in a one-game playoff and won two of three games against Long Island for their G League-best third championship.
Abdelfattah addressed the back-to-back quest when he was introduced as the team’s new head coach, being promoted from assistant coach under Joseph Blair.
“Let me take the pressure off right away,” Abdelfattah joked. “Winning back-to-back championships in the G League is not easy. With all the roster changes, it’s extremely difficult.”
That being said, the Vipers’ quest for a second straight title and G League-best fourth overall, begins today.