It’s been a long time since the National Basketball League of Canada saw the court, but finally, after 712 long days, the league returned to play with a pair of games on Family Day Monday. Their 10th season has tipped off, and while they may be a couple of teams lighter than they were before the pandemic, the key is that they have survived. There will be some creativity in their schedule as they are scheduled to play interleague games with American league, The Basketball League, but they are here and celebrating a milestone season.
The league’s four teams were all in action on Monday with the London Lightning visiting the KW (Kitchener-Waterloo) Titans and the Windsor Express paying a visit to the Sudbury Five. Both games were close, competitive contests with a combined margin of victory at just seven points, and the games served as a reminder of what the pre-pandemic normal was for basketball in Canada.
The Five eeked out a close-fought victory over the Express in their home opener by a score of 113-108 led by strong performances from Dexter Williams Jr., Jason Caliste, and Jeremy Harris who scored a combined 72 of the Five’s 113 points on the afternoon. Josiah Moore chipped in for the Five with a big performance off the bench, scoring 17 points in 29 minutes of action.
“It felt great, the crowd was crazy as per usual and just to take everything after two years of going through the pandemic and getting everybody in, it was fun,” said Williams. “We looked better in the game than we did in practice. Training camp was limited, but for the new guys, it was all energy. If we’ve got energy, we probably won’t mess up.”
“To do what we did out there after five or six days of training camp, I know we’ve got a tough group with us,” he continued. “That’s tough to do after coming off not knowing people, it’s my job to make sure we all stay together and keep going.”
On the Windsor side of this contest, coming up just short in the first game of the season is obviously tough. Great performances from the likes of Billy White who finished the game with a double-double and Lance Tejada who came just one rebound shy of a triple-double weren’t enough to steal a victory on the road. The Express shot the ball better as a whole, but the Five made 16 three-pointers on the afternoon, and that was enough to get them over the hump.
The other game of the afternoon between the Lightning and the Titans was another close one with London coming out on top by a score of 110-108. Cameron Forte led the way for the Lightning with a double-double, scoring 26 points and shooting a mind-boggling 75 percent from the field. With Jaylon Tate and Chris Jones scoring an additional 47 points for their team, the Lightning were able to hold on in a wild back and forth contest.
The Titans shot the ball well from the field, hitting 47.7 percent of their shots on the day, but they couldn’t hit that one extra shot to tie the game. Eric Ferguson and Joel Kindred led the way for them, scoring 47 points combined.
The NBLC will next see the court as they open their interleague schedule with a pair of games on Thursday night. The Five will visit the Indiana All-Americans and the Titans will take on the Jamestown Jackals. The next matchup between two NBLC teams won’t come until the Lightning visit the Express on Saturday, February 26th.
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