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West

Round 1

1 Neoconservatives
Vs.
8 Democrats

Democrats refuse to suit up after Neoconservatives accuse them of treason for their opposition. Neoconservatives win by forfeit.

2 Evangelicals
Vs.
7 Secular Humanists

A classic first-round mismatch. The Secular Humanists wear themselves out early with too much passing and are frustrated by their failure to establish a presence down low. The Evangelicals use their role players and bench shrewdly, creating movement and feeding the ball to their big guns in the paint. They cruise on sheer, unified will, barely breaking a sweat. Humanists undermined by turnovers and the lackluster performance of Agnostics.

3 Israel
Vs.
6 Canadians

After losing the tip-off, Israel stuns the crowd by immediately calling a timeout and filing a petition to have Canada disqualified from competition, arguing vociferously the Canadians’ intent to move the ball into Israeli territory represents a clear violation of its sovereignty and a threat to its right to exist. Following a brief conferral among officials and Israel’s team captain, Canada is eliminated. Disappointment quickly turns to tragedy when the good-natured Canadians attempt to approach the Israeli bench for the traditional post-game handshake, wearing oversized, novelty foam “peace” hands. Israeli security forces fire on the entire Canadian team, killing them, as well as numerous spectators and cotton candy vendors. An Israeli spokesman calls his team’s reaction a “justified and necessary response to the attempted aggressive enforcement of a two-state solution.”

4 American Middle Class
Vs.
5 England

A pairing of two former juggernauts in a mutually lackluster outing. England shows flashes of its former glory, while the Americans’ ongoing recruitment and fundraising woes are evident. Panicked halftime outsourcing by the Americans spells disaster, as Indian substitutes exhibit vestigial fear of the Raj. England ekes out the victory, amid abysmal shooting performances by both teams.


Round 2

1 Neoconservatives
Vs.
5 England

The Neoconservatives’ physical play is too much for flat-footed England, who spend the game reacting instead of establishing their own rhythm. The Neoconservatives’ precision timing and size down low are the keys to their pick-and-roll offense, which they execute repeatedly and flawlessly; leaving England equally bruised and baffled. England fails to capitalize on the Neocons’ hard play, shooting an atrocious 8 for 35 from the free-throw line. The ’Cons’ starting five overcome early foul trouble, helped by several controversial refs’ calls, to finish the game. Neocons roll to the regional final.

2 Evangelicals
Vs.
3 Israel

While the Evangelicals warm up, Israel files a pre-game petition with officials. Their statement claims that the Evangelicals’ bouncing round balls on the floor while Prime Minister Ariel Sharon lies comatose after suffering a brain hemorrhage is a “grotesque insult to the Israeli people and an affront to the spirit of international competition.” The Israelis argue that forcing them to play, and to handle and dribble the ball—which they refer to as “a symbol of our crippled leader’s chaste circularity”—“in such a crass, irreverent display would belittle Sharon’s legacy and besmirch Israel’s standing in the world; thereby making it vulnerable to attack by those who threaten its sovereignty.” The Evangelicals, prepared for this contingency, rush to center court and gather in a prayer circle, beseeching the almighty for a favorable outcome. Members of the Israeli Defense Force accompanying the Israeli team open fire, killing the Evangelicals. An Israeli spokesman calls the shooting “a justified and necessary preemptive strike against a hostile force massing on Israel’s borders.” Israel advances.


Round 3

1 Neoconservatives
Vs.
3 Israel

Israel underwhelms in its first taste of competition, playing tentatively and without much intensity. But they’re aided greatly by the Neo-Conservatives’ game—a performance marred by sloppy ball-handling and careless passing, resulting in a team-record two-dozen turnovers. The ’Cons’ equally bad inside shooting, including two crucial botched lay-ups in the waning minutes of the second half, and lackadaisical rebounding throughout at both ends, raises questions about point shaving. The Neocons later deny the accusations, citing fatigue as a major factor in their loss and blaming the controversy on a “paranoid, scandal-obsessed media.” They issue a team statement crediting Israel’s “single-minded determination” and “principled play.” “They deserve it. They wanted it more,” a Neo-Con team spokesman is quoted as saying. Israel advances, in something of an upset, to face the winner of the Eastern Final in the championship game.


East

Round 1

1 China
Vs.
8 Sudan

Fans are shocked as the Sudanese team collapses during warm-ups. Efforts to revive them are half-hearted and quickly abandoned, and all twelve players are pronounced dead. A hole is dug behind the arena and they are buried without ceremony, but not before their organs are harvested. The coaches and trainers, it is decided, should be euthanized, as it cheaper and more humane than paying to fly them back to Sudan. China advances.

2 India
Vs.
7 Gaza Strip

India takes full advantage of the Palestinians’ unfamiliarity with the large playing surface, running circles around their undersized opponents. The Palestinians, winded within seconds, spend the game alternately cowering under their own net—sustaining several head injuries from Indian dunks—and jockeying for position under the spouts of their Gatorade coolers and India’s. India advances.

3 Shiites
Vs.
6 Sunnis

The only truly promising opening-round match-up lives up to the hype. The Shiites come out strong, threatening an early rout. But their “all-offense mindset” combined with inadequate conditioning catches up with them by the second half. The Sunnis adapt, running a fast-break offense and overwhelming the Shiites with their hustle, who fail repeatedly to get back on defense. Several Sunni players dazzle the crowd with their aerial game. Frustrated, the Shiites resort to taking bad fouls and, eventually, blatant thuggery. They are called several times for illegal picks and flagrant fouls, and finally for suicide bombing—Shiites are the only ones killed and are issued symbolic technical fouls. The Sunnis finish with 58% team shooting, including six players in double figures.

4 Pakistan
Vs.
5 North Korea

Despite the early ejection of their coach, North Korea dominates all the way, relying almost exclusively on its backcourt tandem—proving they are the tournament’s true long-range threat. Their guards combine for 24 of 28 shooting beyond the arc, including several NBA 3s. Pakistan suffers from weak pre-game scouting, evidenced by a porous zone defense. Deafening unified chanting and jarring, simultaneous foot-stomping by North fans causes a portion of the stands to collapse, killing several thousand Pakistani fans. Many thousands more Pakistanis—including the entire team—mistaking the accident for an earthquake, stampede for the exits. Hundreds are killed in the ensuing hysteria. North Korea advances.


Round 2

2 India
Vs.
5 North Korea

The North, its coach once more ejected almost instantly, comes out with its guards firing at will, taking an early lead. India, with many of its most talented personnel having been scooped by other teams, seems to suffer something of an identity crisis. Their own long-range threat apparently exaggerated, the Indians struggle to keep pace with the hot-shooting North. India can’t get the ball to drop and many of their attempts miss the hoop badly, sailing wide by as much as 25 feet. India’s troubles are exacerbated by the refusal of Brahmin players to accept passes from lower caste teammates, resulting in frequent turnovers. Additionally, the team rule requiring Untouchables to walk backward while sweeping away their footprints with brooms, makes ball movement especially laborious and leaves the offense open to many steals by the North. The Indians succumb to the North’s single-minded play.

1 China
Vs.
6 Sunnis

China’s combination of superhuman stamina and the deepest bench in the tournament spells big trouble for the hopelessly outmatched Sunnis. Following an ugly 48-2 run by China in the first half, the Chinese players watch impassively as enraged Sunni fans storm the court. In their tattered clothes, the fans are indistinguishable from the Sunni team and the resultant confusion leads to a forfeit ruling by officials. The Sunnis and their fans refuse to recognize China’s default victory, retreating into the stands and entryways. From hidden positions, they bombard the court with balls from all sides, killing three Chinese players and numerous spectators. It takes security personnel several days to root out all of the Sunnis, forcing officials to postpone the regional final.


Round 3

5 North Korea
Vs.
1 China

An All-Asian Eastern region final. The teams’ small size means lots of open space, but both squads eschew wide-open play in favor of a measured, disciplined game. Both exhibit their reverence for the movie Hoosiers, passing the ball five times on every possession before shooting. China keeps the North off-balance all game, marching resolutely into North territory and putting up points on every possession. The Chinese swarming, full-court press puts the North on its heels and prevents them from establishing their long-range game. The North’s guards hit only 7 of 33 from 3-point range—not nearly enough to make a difference. Not everything proceeds smoothly for China, however, as several Chinese players are maimed or killed attempting unsuccessfully to dunk. The play of both teams is so efficient, the game ends, inexplicably, with time remaining on the clock. One North player was slightly injured after being struck by a ball hurled from the stands by a suspected Sunni holdout.


Finals

1 China
Vs.
3 Israel

In the final showdown, things start off promisingly for the Israelis with the announcement the Dalai Lama will referee: each of China’s players, bench included, is assessed one technical foul before play commences. The Chinese remain incredibly poised defensively in the first half, using their patented “Tiananmen Square” box-out effectively against Israel. But their offense is hampered by the Lama’s tight officiating, including several controversial foul calls for things like dribbling, passing and being Chinese. Israel pounds the ball inside and manages to open a sizable lead, 60-0. In a play that will be debated for ages, an errant Chinese pass at the start of the second half strikes the Dalai Lama in the face, shattering his spectacles and thus rendering him ineligible as an official. But not before he assesses a foul for the pass, and three technicals, resulting in the ejection of three starters. The Chinese raise a brief, muted protest, but with their biggest obstacle removed they refocus on the game. From then on, it’s all China and they rapidly close the huge scoring gap—despite Israel’s construction of a half-court fence during intermission. China pulls within one, 60-59, as time stops with 26 seconds left on the clock. Suddenly, Israel substitutes its entire court personnel for five men who emerge from the locker room tunnel riding bulldozers. They inbound the ball scoop to scoop; a Chinese player manages to foul the ball carrier, but is crushed in the process. The bulldozer operator misses both foul shots, tearing up huge chunks of the court, and lodging one ball permanently in the stadium ceiling. China inbounds with 12 ticks on the clock. Instead of setting up what would have been an impenetrable and deadly press, the Israelis allow the Chinese to simply weave around three defenders. As time expires, a Chinese throws up a desperation half-court shot as an Israeli defender bulldozes his own basket, shouting that it’s “an illegal settlement!” The ball hits the rim and bounces into the stands. Israel is called for goaltending. China wins, 62-60. An Israeli spokesmen later refers to the fans killed by the falling basket as “interloping, anti-Semitic terrorist sympathizers.”

 

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