As we gear-up for another exciting season of NBLC (National Basketball League of Canada) basketball, the fourth in league’s history, it’s starting to look like the Ottawa Skyhawks will be latest addition to the NBLC morgue.
Rumors have begun circulating that the “Nations Capital” franchise will not return for it’s second season after completing a costly and somewhat successful but experimental inaugural season with a winning record of 21 wins and 20 losses, coming-up just short of the NBLC playoffs in heart-breaking fashion.
The Skyhawks were awarded a NBLC franchise in 2012 under the guidance and ownership of Gus Takkale and Bytown Sports Entertainment. The league built a strong case around why Ottawa was/is a great city and market for a semi-professional basketball team- which it is! Unfortunately, the lack of a true basketball facility in the city forced the team to have to play it’s first season in the massive and distant home of the Ottawa Senators which has capacity for over 20,500 plus patrons but is located roughly 30 minutes from the city’s growing and vibrant core.
In 20 home games the Skyhawks averaged just 1051 fans per contest, not even enough to fill-up the Canadian Tire Place once! Their last two home games were played at the nearby city college La Cite Collegiale which only has capacity for roughly 300-500 fans and violated the venue policy that the league has in place.
Attendance peaked at 3560 fans when the Skyhawks knocked off the Mississauga Power 100-89 to kick start a five game winning streak. The lowest points came when the team was forced to play in front of just a 153 fans against the London Lightning (Dec 4/2013) and 202 versus the Brampton A’s the following day.
The ownership group had been hopeful all along that it would be able to secure a deal with newly built TD Place, which would offer the Skyhawks a more suitable home both in terms of location and in line with the leagues mandate for a venue (6 000-10 000 fans).
At the conclusion of the 2013-14 season it was evident that the Skyhawks were already on life-support, and that a return for a second season was seriously in jeopardy, therefore making these early rumors more credible. Add to the fact that the 2014-15 season is less than 90 days away and there has been next to no activity from the team. No player signings, including no announcements as to were the team will play this upcoming season, if it eventually does return to the league.
Several of the players that made the Skyhawks an exciting and competitive team have found new homes overseas including second-leading scorer Justin Tubbs who will take his 17.4 points per game to Germany, hometown favorite Eric Kibi (4.4 PPG/4.7RPG) has also secured is future in the German nation.
Hopefully the ownership group, the city and the league can put together a plan to keep the Skyhawks breathing and avoid becoming the fourth franchise (Quebec Kebs, Montreal Jazz, Oshawa Power) in just four years from joining the National Basketball League of Canada morgue or relocation list.
Carl English amazing 58-point effort sets NBL Canada scoring record
The return of long time fan favorite Carl English to Canada was definitely a moment not to be slept on.
English whose story is well chronicled has had an outstanding 15-year professional career across the top international leagues. A veteran member of Canada Senior Men’s National Team he decided to bring it full circle and concluded his storied career in his hometown province of St. Johns, Newfoundland.
When news broke that he was returning home it also meant that those same East Coast supporters who grew-up watching a young skinny grade ten kid would also get another opportunity to watch him once again showcase his game. English went from dropping 50-point games in high school to becoming only the third player from Newfoundland to play division one NCAA basketball.
On Saturday night, against the visiting Kitchen Waterloo Titans and with March Madness in full swing, the now 37 year-old English, delighted the fans once more with an incredible 58-point career-high performance to set the National Basketball League of Canada (NBLC) scoring record. English connected on 17-of-33 shots, 13/14 free-throws and nailed an incredible 11-of-20 three-point attempts in 127-117 win at Mile One Centre.
The previous record was held by Moncton’s Devin Sweetney in 2013 against the defunct Montreal Jazz.
English currently leads the NBLC in scoring in scoring at 25 points per game, shooting 44% from the floor and 38.5 from the outside, he also averages 4.5 rebounds, 3.8 assists and has the St. John Edge eyeing a deep playoff run and potential championship.
River Lions Springer-Williams Jr. buries 10-of-12 triples, one shy of NBL Canada record
Niagara River Lions guard Clinton Springer-Williams Jr. buried a career-best 10-of 12 triples on his way to a 38-point night in a 108-93 win over the Windsor Express. Springer-Williams Jr. impressive performance came-up just short of Omar’ Strong’s NBL Canada record eleven three-pointers.
Springer-Williams Jr. shot 10-of-15 from the field, including for 4-of-5 from the charity stripe, he’s averaging 10.7 points per game and a scorching hot 46% from downtown for the up-start River Lions.
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