After back-to-back losses to start the season, the Ottawa BlackJacks returned home on Thursday night to take on the Scarborough Shooting Stars, one of the CEBL’s three new expansion teams for the 2022 season. In front of a record crowd of 3,538, the BlackJacks couldn’t overcome the Shooting Stars, who ran away with a 98-81 win.
“Give Scarborough the credit, that’s a very talented team,” said BlackJacks’ head coach Charles Dubé-Brais. “They made 15 threes tonight, so from the get-go, they made a lot. Some of that was on us, and some of that was also tough shot-making.”
The offensive end of the floor proved to be difficult for the BlackJacks, who shot just 48 percent from the field, and 30 percent from three. Their poor percentage from the line (50 percent) and their 14 turnovers over the course of the game didn’t help their cause, and they made their own lives difficult for virtually the entire night.
“We’re trying to get downhill, and we’re succeeding at that, but we’re just not fully efficient at finishing those plays off,” said Dubé-Brais. “We left a lot on the table. We shot only 50 percent from the foul line when they sent us there. It’s about making plays, and they made more plays.”
Defensively, the struggles were just as bad. Allowing the Shooting Stars to hit 15 of their 35 attempted three-pointers (42 percent) put them on the back foot immediately. Scarborough shot the rock well in this game, making more than they missed, and only turned the ball over six times, finding themselves extra points with those possessions. The BlackJacks share some of the responsibility for the Shooting Stars’ efficiency from three, but Scarborough made a handful of contested shots.
“Everyone has to take ownership of guarding their yard and being able to keep people in front of them,” Dubé-Brais said. “They had two NBA players, so it’s easier said than done to keep them in front of you. At some point, your coverages break down a little bit, and we clearly need to get better at that. But sometimes it’s amplified by shot-making as well.”
Three consecutive losses will take a toll on any team, but the BlackJacks are far from being in panic mode just yet. The blueprint for success is on the defensive side of the floor, and what needs to be done is well known in Ottawa’s locker room.
“It was a tough one,” said BlackJacks forward, Maxime Boursiquot. “We have to take things personally, especially on the defensive end. Guys have to lock down and guard our yard, coach mentions that a lot. If we can build on that, things will start to trend up for us.”
“You can only prepare for the process,” said Dubé-Brais. “It’s still very early in the season. Some players were getting exactly what we expected, some better, some worse, and we’re trying to navigate through that. The Boston Celtics were 18-21 after 39 games this season, and now they are turning into a juggernaut, a lot of things can happen over the course of the season.”
Deng Adel, who had another good game for the BlackJacks on Thursday night, says that his team has been close a few times, and the wins will come, but for now, they need to come together as a team.
“Stay together,” Adel said. “It’s game three and we still have a lot of games to go. [We have] to hold each other accountable.”
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