Edmonton Stingers basketball team set to make Americas Champions League debut – Edmonton
The Edmonton Stingers flew to Nicaragua on Friday with one major goal in mind – to prove that Canadian professional basketball is as good as any league in the Americas not named the NBA.
The Stingers open the FIBA Basketball Champions League Americas (BCLA) tournament on Monday against Real Esteli, taking the spot after winning the Canadian Elite Basketball League title last summer.
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“This is (only) CEBL’s fourth season, and being able to put a team in and be part of the Champions League means a lot,” said goalkeeper Adika Peter-McNeilly, 28. from Toronto.
“We have great basketball players in Canada and that puts our league on the world map, we’re building something here that makes it recognized. “
The team is in fact a collaborative effort of the CEBL. Stingers head coach Jermaine Small, who was 32-4 in two and a half seasons with Edmonton and led the Stingers to back-to-back CEBL titles, added some rival CEBL coaches to his squad : Charles Dube -Brais, Head Coach of the Ottawa Blackjacks, and Head Coach of the Niagara River Lions and General Manager Vic Raso.
“I’m very excited to be a part of it,” said Dube-Brais. “Just to have this opportunity to join forces.
“The CEBL needs all of us to move it forward. And I think the league put all of that in place so that we could go and participate in the BCLA and then say, ‘Hey, we’re going to take some league coaches, and we’re going to combine and join forces to move this thing forward. , it’s really exciting.
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The BCLA, sanctioned by FIBA, was founded in 2019 and brings together the best professional clubs from North America, Central America, South America and Latin America. The Stingers return to the field on Tuesday against Puerto Rico’s Cangrejeros.
The group stage sees 12 teams spread across four divisions, with each team taking on their opponents three times, once in each window. The Stingers play Puerto Rico again in early February. Calgary will host the third window in mid-March.
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“It’s huge. We deserve to be there,” said Dube-Brais. “I left Canada (to coach) in 2009 because there wasn’t really what I was looking for.
“I thought it was unfortunate that there was professional basketball all over the place, but not in Canada or not at a level where you think it should be with the level of talent we have here.”
The CEBL started playing in 2019 with six teams. It now has 10 teams, with franchises in Scarborough, Montreal and Newfoundland recently joined.
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“I think the next step was to participate in these continental championships,” said Dube-Brais.
“The fact that we are right now shows that FIBA took us seriously and the world takes us seriously, now when you talk about Canadian basketball and CEBL abroad they know what are you talking about. It is most encouraging.
Raso said he jumped at the chance to be on Small’s staff.
“Of course I want to be there to help,” he said. “I talk all the time with agents, players and coaches and the (CEBL) is starting to gain momentum, we are a FIBA league that can compete with the best leagues in the world, the best leagues in the world. summer in particular. And now we can represent Canada in a real FIBA competition.
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Since the CEBL is a summer league and many of its players are currently scattered across various professional winter leagues abroad, the Stingers roster that will play in Esteli on Monday has only two members – Peter -McNeilly and former Ryerson Rams teammate Jahmal Jones – from his Stingers Championship lineup.
There are nine Canadians on the roster, including BlackJacks Junior goaltender Cadougan, Guelph Nighthawks goaltender Olu Famutimi and Hamilton Badgers goaltender Honey Cody John.
Peter-McNeilly, who played professionally in Germany after leaving Ryerson, said the CEBL offers great opportunities for Canadians to stay at home.
“I can’t even express words,” said Peter-McNeilly, who won the CEBL’s sixth men’s award in 2021. “You play abroad, and you see how established these leagues are and how they take care of their players.
“So having a league in your own home, and they take care of the Canadian players, and you can play in front of your family and friends all the time, that means a lot.
“You’re going to play guys that you played against growing up, in the house league, in high school and college, and then so you can play pro and show the next generation that, you know what? You can play in this league. You don’t have to go abroad, you can stay at home and become a professional basketball player.
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The top two teams from each of the four groups qualify for the best of the three quarter-finals.
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