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The road to the CEBL title goes through Edmonton
Three games remain in the Canadian Elite Basketball League season, all of which take place in Edmonton this weekend.
The one-game semifinals go Friday at 7 and 9:30 p.m. ET, with the championship on Sunday at 4 p.m. ET. You can watch all the action live on CBC-TV and CBCSports.ca.
Here’s everything you should know ahead of championship weekend:
Awards will be won tonight. For the third consecutive time (in the CEBL’s three-year existence), Edmonton Stingers guard Xavier Moon will likely take home top player honours. Moon led the Stingers to a rousing 13-1 record, while contributing the top two single-game scoring performances in league history — including 39 (in an approximately 40-minute game, remember) in an August contest. Moon was the league-leading scorer and third in assists per game.
The other nominee for top player is Hamilton’s Lindell Wigginton, who should be named top Canadian. Reigning champion and 2021 nominee Jordan Baker of Edmonton even said Wigginton would “more than likely” take the award. Despite the Honey Badgers’ shocking quarter-final exit, Wigginton excelled in his debut CEBL season, placing only behind Moon in scoring while leading his team in assists and rebounds. You may see Wigginton with Team Canada during national-team qualifying windows that overlap with the NBA season in the coming year.
Find live streams, must-watch video highlights, breaking news and more in one perfect Olympic Games package. Following Team Canada has never been easier or more exciting.
No. 2 Niagara takes on No. 4 Fraser Valley in the first semifinal. The lower-ranked Bandits reached the semis behind a record-breaking 20-point quarter-final victory over Guelph and have now won three straight. They’ve played the River Lions twice this season, with vastly different results: a 23-point win in June, and a 21-point loss in July. The River Lions boast the Canadian basketball staple Scrubb brothers as well as defending U Sports player of the year and 2021 nominee Lloyd Pandi, who also plays for powerhouse university program Carleton. The Bandits are led by guard Alex Campbell, who represented Canada in Olympic 3×3 basketball qualifying, and sixth man of the year candidate Shaquille Keith.
But the more intriguing matchup is No. 1 Edmonton vs. No. 6 Ottawa. The Stingers are the defending champions playing on home soil following a 13-1 regular-season record. The BlackJacks went 4-10, including 0-7 on the road, before stunning the 10-4 Honey Badgers in Hamilton in the quarter-finals. The Stingers come armed with Moon and Baker, two of the best players in the league. The BlackJacks had no award candidates, but signed 30-year-old big man Chad Posthumus two days before the playoffs, who helped prevent Ottawa’s death with 23 points and a playoff-record 20 rebounds. But before you call this a David vs. Goliath matchup, the lone team who beat Edmonton this season? Yup, that would be Ottawa.
There will be a title-clinching shot. The CEBL uses the Elam Ending — add nine points to the leading team’s total with four minutes remaining, and the first side to reach that target score wins. The method both ensures that the end of games don’t drag with copious intentional fouling and timeouts, and that every contest features a game-winning bucket. It was Moon, unsurprisingly, who played the hero in 2020.
Felix Auger-Aliassime is the last Canadian standing in Cincinnati. The Montreal native took down Russia’s Karen Khachanov today to reach the Round of 16. And Auger-Aliassime’s next matchup is a juicy one, as he takes on training partner Matteo Berretini, who ousted him in the Wimbledon quarter-finals. Wednesday’s win was Auger-Aliassime’s second in Cincinnati — two more than Bianca Andreescu, Denis Shapovalov and Leylah Annie Fernandez combined. Andreescu and Shapovalov both received byes to the second round but immediately fell to worse-ranked opponents. Paired with the lacklustre National Bank Open results, Canada’s chances at the upcoming U.S. Open — and Andreescu’s hopes of regaining her championship — appear slim. Meanwhile, 2020 U.S. Open champion Naomi Osaka won her own second-round match today. Read more about Canada’s results at the Masters tournament and watch highlights here.
The Blue Jays’ playoff chances took a tumble. Star outfielder George Springer — one of the hottest hitters in baseball since the all-star break in July — landed on the injured list with a mild knee sprain. It’s the third lower-body injury of the season for the free agent Toronto signed for six years and a franchise record $150 million US in the off-season. He’s played just 49 games and still managed to smack 16 home runs. The Blue Jays said they are hopeful for his return this season. But the team is now four games out of a playoff spot and fourth in the AL East, and it’s lost one more game than it’s won without Springer in the lineup this season. And after a lopsided loss to the bottom-feeding Nationals on Tuesday, things for the Jays — who seemed poised to make a big playoff push just weeks ago — are turning for the worse. Read more about Springer’s injury here and the loss to the Nationals here.
Masai Ujiri says Kyle Lowry is the GROAT. That would be Greatest Raptor Of All Time. Ujiri’s exact quote: “Is Kyle the greatest Raptor that ever played the game here? Yes he is. Kyle is the greatest Raptor.” No mincing words there. You can expect a jersey retirement, at the very least, after Lowry retires. In his first press conference since re-signing with Toronto, Ujiri also said the team was hopeful to return home for next season (the schedule released in a few days will say Toronto) and affirmed that Pascal Siakam, the subject of trade rumours after a rift with head coach Nick Nurse last season, would remain with the Raptors. Read more from Ujiri’s availability here.
Ad patches are coming to NHL jerseys. The league gave the green light for jersey advertisements beginning in the 2022-23 season, according to multiple reports. Helmet ads were introduced last season as the NHL said it was attempting to recoup financial losses stemming from the pandemic, and the general consensus was that the product was not affected. The NBA added jersey patches a few seasons ago, and it’s mostly been fine (can you even name the Raptors’ jersey sponsor?). In the NHL, the patches will be 3.5×3 inches — so as long as the league doesn’t eventually go all Spengler Cup on us, the move should be fairly harmless. Read more about the incoming ads here.
Olympic love is in the air. Canadian diver Jennifer Abel arrived home to a proposal. Soccer goalie Stephanie Labbé and fellow Canadian Olympian Georgia Simmerling recently announced their engagement. And now another: diver Caeli McKay, who finished fourth in 10-metre synchro in Tokyo on torn ankle ligaments, revealed she would be tying the knot with Canadian Olympic diver Vincent Riendeau. Stuck the landing.