The CEBL Summer Series has been nothing short of a great success thus far. With 25 of the 26 games now in the books, the leagues final game tomorrow will determine a champion. But first, it must be decided who will play. The Edmonton Stingers were matched up against the Ottawa Blackjacks in the second semi-final of they day, to see who would face the Fraser Valley Bandits, who beat the Hamilton Honey Badgers, in the Summer Series finals. The winner of this game would go on, and the loser would go home.
Travis Daniels also had a lot of eyes on him. Daniels is dealing with the sudden passing of his sister, and leaving behind a dog and a child of his own in order to be in the bubble playing basketball for the Stingers. The fact that he’s still playing is incredible for the Stingers.
There were a ton of sub-plots going into this game. First and foremost, the Stingers had take 5 days of rest, after clinching the first round bye with a victory over the Guelph Nighthawks. The Stingers were dealing with many injuries from Xavier Moon, Brody Clarke and Zac Overwater, however this 5 day break gave them a great opportunity to get healthy, and get ready to get back into things. Ottawa has a different story. This would be the Blackjacks 4th game in 5 days. The Blackjacks had a back to back to end the regular season, and then played a quarterfinal match. The Blackjacks would have a day off after beating the Guelph Nighthawks, but would be right back to it against the Stingers.
The game was expected to start slowly, as the Stingers were expected to be rusty, and the Blackjacks were expected to be stiff. After a few empty possessions, the Stingers managed to blow the lid off the rim, and go on a 20-8 run. Impressive play from Mambi Diawara was the difference maker in the first quarter. Diawara would be cooled off by an apparent hand injury, but would later return to the game and finish play. The Stingers would lean on Diawara and Mathieu Kamba heading into the half with a comfortable 8 point lead. Kamba led the way for the Stingers with 16 points in the half, just 1 point shy of his CEBL career high.
Things didn’t change too much for Ottawa in the second half. Aside from a very short time that the Blackjacks managed to claw back and even take a 1 point lead, the Stingers kept applying pressure throughout the game, and would go into ELAM time with an 11 point lead. With a target score of 88, the Stingers gave Ottawa a glimpse of hope with a 5-0 run, however the Stingers shut the door, finishing off the Blackjacks with an Xavier Moon pull-up three pointer that would end the game. 88-75 Stingers.
With this loss, the Blackjacks inaugural season would come to a close, and the Stingers would move onto the finals in hopes of capturing their first ever CEBL Championship. But the Blackjacks can’t be too disappointed, it was an incredible season for them, and they’ll be looking to back it up with more next season.
It was the Mathieu Kamba show for the Stingers. After leading all scorers with 16 points in the half, Kamba would go on to finish with 26 points on 75% shooting. On top of his strong offensive showing, Kamba recorded 3 steals, 3 rebounds and 3 assists. Kamba stepped in brilliantly for the quieter Xavier Moon. Moon finished with 13 points and 5 assists, as well as the game winning three. The quiet night for Moon can be explained by the constant double coverages thrown at him by the Blackjacks. The beautiful thing about Moon, he always finds the open man. Today it was Kamba, who’s career high 26 points came mostly off of open threes created by double teams on Xavier Moon.
Jordan Baker also carried some of the load. Baker played the most Jordan Baker game possible, finishing with 13 points and 10 rebounds, and so much more that won’t show up in the box score. Baker was diving on the floor for loose balls, shooting efficient shots, and making unbelievable cross-court passes for easy points.
For Ottawa it was Olivier Hanlan, former San Antonio Spurs draft pick, getting it done with 17 points and 5 rebounds. The Blackjacks struggled to get contributions elsewhere. The Blackjacks top player, Thomas Scrubb, shot just 3 or 13 in a disappointing outing to end his season.
The Stingers brought their best, and will need to do it again if they want to defeat the Fraser Valley Bandits. The Bandits are a gritty team with lots of talent. The Stingers and Bandits face off tomorrow morning at 10AM MST in the CEBL Semi Finals. The winner of this game will be crowned CEBL champions and… King of the North.
Full boxscore: https://www.cebl.ca/event?matchid=1724924