Saturday night saw two of the top teams in the National Basketball League of Canada take part in their first meeting of the season, as the London Lightning played host to the Orangeville A’s. Both teams are loaded with talent, so points were going to be aplenty on the night.
Fans of college basketball knew all too well what some of the players in the game could bring to the table, and we had a battle of former collegiate forwards on our hands all game long. Former Buffalo Bulls star Justin Moss now calls Orangeville his basketball home, and he went up against the NCAA trio of Stephen Maxwell, Chad Posthumus, and Curtis Washington of the Lightning. Add in Flenard Whitfoeld (Western Michigan) and Richard Amardi (Oregon) for the A’s, and the paint was the place to watch all night long.
Tuesday night saw the only two teams to win a championship in the history of the NBL Canada square off for the first time in 2015-16. The London Lightning won the first two championships in the league’s existence, while the Windsor Express are the two-time defending league champions. They are undoubtedly the two powerhouse franchises in the league, and both were looking for a statement win.
Both teams were coming off a loss in their last outing. The Lightning lost a heart-breaker on the road against the Niagara River Lions. It was the second game of a home-and-home series on consecutive nights, and a buzzer-beating three pointer sent the River Lions to the 106-104 victory. As for the Express, they also lost on a last-minute shot, falling to the Orangeville A’s, 98-97, in their season opener.
December 26th serves as Boxing Day in Canada, which means a lot of shopping to most. It also marks the start of the IIHF World Juniors for others. But, what some may not know, it also marks the start of the National Basketball League of Canada regular season.
The league, which is entering its fifth season of existence, pushed the start of their season back to after Christmas due to weather conflicts for some teams on the East Coast. On Saturday, the regular season kicked off, and what a night it was.
The London Lightning opened the season at home against the newest team to the league, the Niagara River Lions. The River Lions are a new expansion team, while the Lightning have consistently been one of the top teams in the country in each of the first four years.
Niagara came ready to play in the opening quarter, but were unable to keep up with the Lightning over the course of the game. London used a big second quarter to propel them into the lead, and they slowly pulled away in the second half.