LONDON, Ont. — The London Lightning are proving once again why they are the best team in the NBL Canada.
Last season, they won their third league title in convincing fashion. They had a talented roster that was led by Royce White, Garrett Williamson, Ryan Anderson, and others. In the off-season, head coach Kyle Julius took a job overseas, and several key players went different routes. It left more questions than answers coming into this season.
Just when it looked as though they couldn’t get any better, they somehow did.
One could make the case that this year’s edition of the team has more talent and offensive weapons than the team that won it all a season ago. They are getting scoring from everyone on the roster, and they aren’t even at full health. Marcus Capers and Kyle Johnson are both nursing injuries, but are due back in the near future.
CANMORE, Alta. — The NJIT Highlanders are slowly starting to take over the NBL Canada.
Earlier this week, former Highlander Tim Coleman inked his first professional contract, signing with the 2016 NBL Canada champion Halifax Hurricanes.
Now, one of Coleman’s teammates from last season will be his counterpart in the NBL Canada.
Guard Robert Ukawuba, who played four seasons with the Highlanders from 2013 to 2017, was selected by the Windsor Express with the 16th selection in the second round of the 2017 NBL Canada Draft. Ukawuba took part in the Draft Combine over the weekend, and left his mark with the staff of the Express.
WINDSOR, Ont. — What a year it has been for Springfield, Missouri native Erik Durham.
Back in March, the Jacksonville State Gamecocks made a run through the Ohio Valley Conference tournament as the fourth-seed in the field, punching the program’s first-ever ticket to the Big Dance.
Durham recorded a double-double of 16 points and 11 rebounds against the Southeast Missouri State Redhawks in the quarter-finals. After a win over the top-seeded Belmont Bruins in the semi-finals, Durham recorded 11 points in the championship game to send the Gamecocks to the NCAA Tournament.
Jacksonville State was awarded a 15-seed, but were unable to pull off any Cinderella magic, falling to the Louisville Cardinals in the Round of 64, 78-63.
With the 2016-17 NBL Canada season under a month away, teams are starting to assemble their training camp rosters, and get the right pieces in place as they embark on the journey towards the NBL Canada Championship.
Even though each team protected six players from last year’s roster at the start of the off-season, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re safe from off-season moves.
On Tuesday, the London Lightning and the Windsor Express pulled off a trade that will drastically shake up the lineup for both teams moving forwards.
Thursday night was a tale of two halves for both the London Lightning and the Windsor Express. When one team excelled, the other faltered.
The last two times these teams have faced off, the Express cane away victorious both times out. With that fresh in their mind, the Lightning were hoping to get some revenge on their 401 rivals.
London had a memorable first half, while Windsor struggled to find their groove on both ends of the floor. With 4:34 to play in the second quarter, London had a 28-point lead. They held the Express to just 15 points in the quarter, taking a 21-point lead into the break.
In the second half, the roles were reversed.
Windsor came out with a vengeance, and eliminated London’s lead in the fourth quarter. Lightning fans were uneasy, but the stars for the Lightning stepped it up in the closing minutes to ensure their strong first half didn’t go to waste.
Coming into Saturday night’s showdown, the only two teams to have won the NBL Canada championship had split the previous four meeting this season. The London Lightning and the Windsor Express had won two games apiece against one another in the season series.
Last time the two teams met, the Express ended London’s winning streak in the Clash at the Colosseum III, taking home a 114-93 win inside Caesars Windsor. London was looking for a bit of redemption on Saturday, while the Express were looking to make up more ground in the race for the Central Division title.
It was a low scoring affair for both teams, given their seasonal averages. Much like their second meeting of the season, the game came down to the wire.
Tony Bennett hit a pair of free throws with 19.9 seconds on the clock to give Windsor an 86-85 lead. They had four fouls to give, and they used each one to stall London on the offensive end of the floor. They drew up a play, and Ryan Anderson got off a three point shot from the corner. It bounced off the rim, bounced out, and the game was over.