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Ottawa Skyhawks latest NBLC franchise to hit the morgue?

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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.

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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.

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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.

NBLC

River Lions Springer-Williams Jr. buries 10-of-12 triples, one shy of NBL Canada record

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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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NBLC

Niagara River Lions Clinton Springer-Williams Nails Step-Back Home-Opener Game-Winner

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Welcome to the National Basketball League of Canada (NBLC).

The Niagara River Lions playing in the franchise’s first-ever home opener were treated to a buzzer beating shot from familiar player.

Former Brock Badgers and 2010 CIS Men’s Basketball Rookie of the Year drilled home a beautiful step-back three-pointer as the upstart Niagara River Lions coached by Ken Murray (Former Brock Badgers Head oach) defeated the London Lightning 106-104 in dramatic fashion in front of 2800 plus fan at Meridian Centre. in St. Catherines, Ontario. Clinton Springer-Williams finished the night with 15 points and eight rebounds as Niagara improved to 1-1 in their inaugural season.

 

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FIBA

Toronto 3D Taking Flight

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Basketball in Canada has grown tremendously over the last few years. With its popularity being at an all-time high it is fair to say that basketball in Canada has reached it’s prime. The Toronto Raptors could certainly take credit for the Nations view on basketball with it’s “We The North” campaign. This slogan has taken Canadians by storm. So much that the NBA has set a new D-League team in the GTA area, a Raptors affiliation called ‘Toronto 905’. The Raptors have taken advantage of the ‘buzz’ they have going on by adding two Toronto natives, a former NBA champion Cory Joseph and Anthony Bennett the first Canadian to be picked first overall in an NBA draft. This has got people believing that Tristan Thompson & Andrew Wiggins, both Toronto natives, will eventually join the Raptors as well.

This new regime in Canadian basketball translated to Canada coming out on fire at the  2015 FIBA Americas but unfortunately fell short of qualifying for the 2016 Olympics in Brazil as they finished with the bronze medal. All these accomplishments and recognition has paved the way for Canadian basketball players to be driven and motivated more than ever. Having the opportunity to go to open try-outs for the 905’s D-League team, also the National Basketball League of Canada (NBLC) who will be going into their 5th season. For years Canadian basketball players felt that most leagues favorite Americans due to their experiences. Those who lacked the funds of going to America had slim chances of making any professional basketball league. But it seems that all of that has changed. Luckily for Canadians the NBL Canada regulates a rule which every roster should have a minimum of 4 Canadian players even though most teams have actually carried up to 7. This rule has helped many talented Canadian players earn spots on rosters. Owners and managers continue on making NBL Canada a recognized league not only around the world, but also are taking greater strides by attempting to ‘canadianize’ the league from the ownership level down to the players. One team who has some NBL Canada affiliation that stood out the most the past year as an emerging and unique Canadian force in basketball was the Toronto 3D team.

Toronto 3D is a premier basketball club in Toronto that has gained quite the name for themselves since their inception only a year and a half ago. With all the professional teams in Toronto, 3D still managed to gain some respect. Four core athletes who play on the Toronto 3D have even been invited to private Raptor’s workouts. 3D creates a balanced program that allows Canadian basketball players to develop their talents, play semi-professional basketball and gain exposure all while transitioning into the real ‘work’ world after their college/university or pro-careers. Anything that becomes after that is just a bonus: such as players landing professional basketball contracts. For a program that has launched less than two years ago, it has accomplished a lot. They represented Canada in China in May in a tournament hosted by Beijing’s ATLAS Sports and the Chinese Basketball association where they played representatives of the NBA D-League’s IOWA Energy, Cairns Taipans the Australians NBL 1st place team and the Chinese National B team. Toronto 3D has also played against teams from the IBA, CBA, participated in the Toronto’s Pro-Am games, and went undefeated with a 13-0 record in the North Border Basketball League of 2014. The action did not stop there this summer for 3D as they even had 4 players representing them during a Pan-am game scrimmage against Brazil’s National Basketball team playing alongside Toronto Raptor’s James Johnson.

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This program is starting to gain recognition and is up and coming as one of the most emerging basketball programs in Canada. Its success has landed a handful of player’s professional basketball contracts. Point guard Greg Carter out of Ottawa and a former 3X CIS Defensive player of the year received a contract with the NBL Canada Niagara River Lions. Toronto Guard Tramar Sutherland out of Toronto who played Div.1 for Little Rock Arkansas also earned himself a contract with Niagara River Lions. Denny McDonald out of Mississauga and a former Sheridan college & Trinity Western University player received a professional contract with NBL Canada’s Saint John Millrats. Shamar Coombs out of Toronto received a professional contract with the Caldas De Manizales a professional basketball club in Colombia. Overall the Toronto 3D has taken advantage of the uprising basketball opportunities in Canada and ran with it. To close the year they will have a mini tour in the United States where they will be playing against NCAA schools and semi-pro teams. With the determining goal of creating disciplined motivation, the 3D aims to help its dedicated players achieve their dreams. One things for sure is that the Toronto 3D’s future is looking bright!

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