The Saskatchewan Rattlers defeated the Hamilton Honey Badgers 94-83 Sunday to capture the inaugural Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) championship.
Saskatchewan captain Alex Campbell was the Player of the game, leading the Rattlers with 20 points, 11 rebounds and two assists.
“It was amazing,” Campbell told reporters after the game, speaking about the atmosphere at the packed SaskTel Centre.
“The energy was there, especially in those dire moments when we need the lift from fans, they were there for us.”
The CEBL has emphasized Canadian content from the start, requiring teams to have at least 70 per cent Canadian players and forming partnerships with U Sports and Canada Basketball.
Saskatchewan had eight Canadian players on its active roster as of Sunday, including Campbell — a University of Windsor (Ontario) product.
“It’s a great opportunity for Canadian players to stay home in the summer and get games in — professional games against quality players,” said Campbell.
In the championship game, Negus Webster-Chan (Scarborough, Ont.) added 17 points and four assists for the Rattlers, while Shaquille Keith (Toronto, Ont.) had 16 points in front of a hometown crowd in Saskatoon.
Xavier Rathan-Maves (Scarborough) led the way for Hamilton, with 24 points, 11 rebounds and five assists.
Honey Badgers guard Ricky Tarrant Jr. (Pleasant Grove, Ala.), a CEBL Player of the Year finalist, had 21 points, five rebounds and five assists.
Saskatchewan Rattlers 2019 CEBL Champions
As the host team, Saskatchewan had an automatic bid in the the four-team championship tournament, but the Rattlers also qualified on merit, finishing third in regular-season standings with a 13-9 record.
They upset the second-seeded Edmonton Stingers 85-83 Saturday to earn a spot in the championship game.
“They earned their spot,” said league commissioner Mike Morreale. “Couldn’t have written a better script.”
Hamilton was an underdog throughout the tournament, finishing fourth in regular-season standings with an 11-11 record.
But the Honey Badgers pulled off a huge upset in Saturday’s other semi-final, knocking off the top-seeded Niagara River Lions 104-103.
Rathan-Mayes led the way in that contest as well, with a game-high 28 points, eight rebounds and 11 assists.
“I’m happy for basketball in Canada,” said Morreale. “I wave a Canadian flag every single day.
“That’s what I do, and I’m proud of it … I will continue to raise the bar for this product and for this game, because I think it’s important that we do so, and we support basketball at all levels.
CEBL 2020 Expansion
Morreale added the CEBL is looking for expansion, as well as owners for the six existing league-owned franchises.
In an interview with CBC, he said the league could add a seventh franchise as early as 2020.
“We put a probably 80 per cent focus on the league to start, because you are nothing without a strong league,” he told reporters on Sunday. “We’ve seen that from other iterations that have come and (gone).
“Canadian Basketball League made by Canadians, for Canadians”
“This is a Canadian league made by Canadians, for Canadians, played with Canadians — and damn good Canadians.”
CBC and CEBL sign three-year broadcast deal
Canada’s national public broadcaster is betting on basketball.
The CBC has announced a three-year agreement to carry Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) games on its online and mainline video broadcast platforms.
“This collaboration is an example of our ongoing commitment to men’s and women’s basketball, and allows us to create valuable connections with local communities of all sizes,” said Chris Wilson, executive director of sports and Olympics for the CBC.
“We’ve seen how this sport has the power to unite and bring people from across the country and all over the world together. We’re pleased to be able to continue this momentum by providing fans unprecedented coverage of the 2020 CEBL season.”
CBC will carry live streams of all 70 regular season CEBL games and its five playoff contests on the free CBC Gem streaming service, as well as on cbcsports.ca and the CBC Sports mobile app.
The main CBC network will also carry seven regular season CEBL games and the CEBL Championship Weekend in Edmonton, according to a news release.
The CEBL is the only First Division professional basketball league in Canada and launched in 2019 with teams in Edmonton, Saskatchewan, Niagara, Guelph, Fraser Valley, B.C., and Hamilton, Ont.
An expansion franchise in Ottawa was announced earlier this week. The league launches its second season in May 2020.
“The CEBL is thrilled to welcome CBC as its premier media partner,” said league commissioner Mike Morreale in a statement.
“This CBC Sports partnership is a game changer for basketball in Canada.”
Saskatchewan won the inaugural CEBL championship in Saskatoon in August 2019, and the league has steadily built support through partnerships with U Sports and Canada Basketball.
CEBL games take place exclusively in the spring and summer, and a majority are within the traditional offseason for professional and university basketball.
As a result, both U Sports and Canada Basketball are able to treat the CEBL as a development league.
“As we experience historic times for basketball in Canada, the CEBL will play a pivotal role in showcasing the growing talent from coast-to-coast-to-coast,” said Glen Grunwald, a former NBA general manager and current CEO of Canada Basketball.
“Canada Basketball is proud of the partnership with the CEBL as its First Division Professional League. The collaboration between CBC Sports and the CEBL provides increased opportunities to tell the stories of amazing Canadian basketball players, coaches and officials.”
CBC’s mainline broadcast schedule for CEBL game is as follows:
CEBL Games on CBC*
|Saturday, May 30, 2020 (4 p.m. Eastern)||Ottawa at Hamilton|
|Saturday, June 6, 2020 (4 p.m. Eastern)||Edmonton at Guelph|
|Saturday, June 13, 2020 (4 p.m. Eastern)||Fraser Valley at Edmonton|
|Saturday, June 27, 2020 (4 p.m. Eastern)||Hamilton at Guelph|
|Saturday, July 4, 2020 (2 p.m. Eastern)||Hamilton at Niagara|
|Saturday, July 18, 2020 (4 p.m. Eastern)||Niagara at Saskatchewan|
|Sunday, August 16, 2020 (4 p.m. Eastern)||CEBL Championship|
|*Dates and times are subject to change.|
CEBL expands with Ottawa BlackJacks
Ottawa has been men’s university basketball’s Champ City for a minute, thanks to the Carleton Ravens dynasty.
Now Canada’s capital has a professional franchise gunning for that No. 1 spot.
The Ottawa BlackJacks, named after a super-speedy jackrabbit, is the first expansion franchise in the now-seven-team Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL).
“The CEBL is thrilled to welcome the Ottawa BlackJacks to its roster of professional basketball clubs,” said league commissioner Mike Morreale in a statement.
“Ottawa/Gatineau and the surrounding area has a history of basketball excellence. The game was invented in Almonte, which is about 40-minutes west of the city. We look forward to bringing a family-oriented basketball and entertainment experience to the Arena at TD Place.
“This relationship ensures the sustainability of the team and delivers another club for the legion of sports fans in the Ottawa area to rally behind.”
The BlackJacks will play at TD Place starting in 2020, a massive downtown complex that already hosts the CFL’s Ottawa REDBLACKS and the OHL’s Ottawa 67s.
The venue has a 10,000-seat indoor arena, as well as a 24,000-seat outdoor football and soccer stadium. It’s also the site of the U Sports Men’s and Women’s national basketball tournaments in March 2020.
“The BlackJacks deliver high-end play on the court and a modern vibe in the air so it’s going to be something very new and exciting for the fans in our region,” said Mark Goudie, president and CEO of Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group (OSEG), which owns TD Place, as well as the REDBLACKS and the 67s.
Ottawa joins Edmonton, Guelph, Fraser Valley, Hamilton (Ont.), Niagara and reigning champion Saskatchewan in the CEBL, which launched earlier this year.
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