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Before the 2019-20 NBA G League season began, players and coaching staff alike talked about how athletic the RGV Vipers team was and the potential it had once it got used to the system and each other That seems to have taken longer than expected. After a season-opening win at Austin, the Vipers dropped eight straight before bouncing back in impressive fashion at the end of last week. They defeated a team filled with impressive names and players, scoring 74 points in the middle two quarters before ultimately holding on to a 133-129 victory over the South Bay Lakers. The game was the final home game in a four-game stretch where the defending G League champs followed nearly the same pattern in the first three games - all losses that started out with the Vipers falling behind by double digits early and fighting hard to get back into the games before ultimately losing. “We’ll be all right,” head coach Mahmoud Abdelfattah said from the start. “We have a lot of talent here. Maybe I just need to get them to understand their roles better.” During the recent home stretch, the Vipers, almost feared for their prolific 3-point shooting, were at best mediocre from beyond the arc. Sharpshooters like Brandon Sampson and Sindarius Thornwell couldn’t fine their range; point guard Angel Rodriguez did not look like the player from a a year before when a shoulder injury sidelined him for the rest of the season just 10 games in, and players were clearly frustrated, not moving around much and seemingly lost in an offense that was still trying to find the right people for the right spots. “There’s a lot of talent on this team but everyone is still adjusting to their roles,” Thornwell said. “Everybody wants to score and everybody can score, it’s just finding that right chemistry” South Bay not only had former Viper star Gary Payton II, but also carried on its roster David Stockton - son of the NBA’s all-time assist leader John Stockton, and Kostas Antetokounmpo, bother of NBA star and current MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. The team is coached by Coby Karl, son of former NBA long-time coach George Karl, who, ironically coached Gary Payton Sr. “We got into a rhythm there in the fourth quarter,” Payton II said after the game. “It was just a little too late.” Rodriguez came to life in the win against South Bay, as did backup point guard ...

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