Two plays this week c aught my attention. Let me start with the earlier one. Ja Morant , the 2020 Rookie of the year is by far the best Grizzly.Where would there be without him? Certainly not third in the West with a better record than the entire Eastern Conference. Thursday’s game with the New York Knicks illustrates just how good Memphis is on the transition. Just watch how they break down the play from New York. After the break down in play, its 3 versus one on the transition and Knicks in trouble. What does the single defender number 9, Barrett do to break this play up from Memphis? Nothing. He is caught between going for the man with the ball and waiting to see what happens. He chose the later which we can’t blame him. But this play was more tricky for Memphis than meets the eye. Watch number 13 for Knicks Fournier. He gets there and is a whisker away from at least fouling Ja. Who gets in the way, Barrett. Doesn’t know where his teammate is and Ja slams home the alley hoop with emphasis only the Grizzlies can. Good passing from Memphis and an equally important lesson on defending as a team.

Now to the play. Senegal and Egypt played a cagey final for the Africa Cup of Nations in Yaounde on Sunday. Very little chances for the big name strikers for both teams, Sadio Mane and Mo Salah who so happened to be clubmates at Liverpool. Senegal had the best chance to score and it came early when impressive left back for Senegal Sadio Mane was fouled by Egyptian center back Abdelmonem for the penalty to Senegal in the third minute of the game. What follows was an awesome watch. Mo Salah knows how Mane takes his penalties after seeing him in training. So before the penalty was taken he went over to Gabaski the Egyptian keeper to relay the intelligence. Mane understands the operations research and psychology associated with penalties. He goes over there and tries to confuse Gabaski by pointing to the side he claims to want to put the ball. Penalties are a zero sum game and Mane realized that and went on mind mode. Gabaski ended up being THE MAN and saving the pen showing that a mixed strategy is probably best strategy for a penalty taker. Mane would redeem himself in the shootout and give Senegal their first ever title. Gabaski guessed the right way then too so lesson for keepers, players rarely vary their penalty strategy. Spoiler. The water Gabaski’s had each penalty taker’s strategy. Pity the world cup is not big enough for both these two best players in African soccer but it will be one hell of a play off in March.