If you’ve been sleeping under a rock and haven’t heard the news, the London Lightning defeated the Halifax Rainmen 116-92 and earned the right to call themselves the inaugural National Basketball League of Canada champs! It certainly was a great win and an overall stellar game played by both teams.
While the final score doesn’t truly tell the full story of how spectacular this back and forth affair was, I thought that it’s only fitting that I share what my man Mic Boogie and I saw firsthand from the sidelines. If you were following my Twitter feed during the game, you’d know that I was tweeting like crazy so here’s what we saw:
Whether you were cheering for hometown Lightning or made the 24 hour drive from Halifax to support the Rainmen, it didn’t matter. The packed crowd at the John Labatt Centre was bananas! It was my first time coming out to a London game and I’m told that the fans are nuts like this all time. I saw drummers, live bands and I’m certain that Lil Flash, the ultra-energetic mascot must have downed a case of Red Bull before the game cause he didn’t stop.
Very Liberal Reffing
There was a lot of talk and speculation swirling around the officiating and whether or not it was going to be in any way a deciding factor in the outcome of the game. I can confidently say that wasn’t the case at all. Word on the street was that the officiating crew was brought in from out of province to ensure that impartiality and objectivity ruled. There was tons of physical play and the refs let a lot of stuff go for both sides. The players quickly figured out how the game was going to be called and they adjusted.
Hard Working Coaches
It was a treat to spend some time watching both head coaches work the sidelines, get on the refs and pump their players up. Coach Pep and Coach Richardson and their respective coaching staffs definitely need to be commended for a job well done. All the players were well prepared and had their game face on during the opening tip. I peeped in on a Halifax huddle and Pep repeatedly kept saying, “Keep working, keep working!” and his players responded.
Can’t wait to see a rematch when these coaches square off again during the All Star Weekend festivities at the end of March! BTW – Lightning coach, Michael Ray Richardson, was named NBL Canada Coach of the Year.
Support From Oshawa Power
It was mad cool to see Oshawa Power guard, Morgan Lewis and president of basketball operations Gary Durrant in the house to support the NBL. Maybe next year, eh fellas?
Perspectives Are Important
I really did my best to get everyone’s point of view, in this case I wanted to get the cheerleaders POV. (One of the hazards of journalistic reporting)
Its All About Effort Baby!
The first three quarters was a back and forth affair. Both teams kept one another within arms reach as they pretty much traded baskets all the way through.
In fact, I tweeted that at no point during the game did either team have more than a five point advantage.
Talk about a nail biter!
London Lightning guard, DeAnthony Bowden was the leading scorer with 28 points and told me afterwards, “When you come to this point time it’s all or nothing so you gotta give everything and that’s what we talked about in the locker room. Giving 120% and leaving everything on the floor cause there’s no tomorrow.”
Vets Step Up In The 4th Quarter!
dominance and took command of the game leading by as many as 20 points. The Lightning continued to drain shot after shot and the Rainmen couldn’t keep up. At one point, the Halifax club went scoreless for almost four minutes. Many would agree that one of the strengths of this Lightning squad is their veteran play and here’s what Rodney Buford had to say when I asked him what vets bring to the table, “Veteran leadership keeps the guys patience and calm and knowing what to do.” NBL MVP, Gabe Freeman chipped in by saying, “When you got a team full of veterans, sometimes they tend to use the hot water when they want to.”
Watching the team take a moment amid all the celebration and chaos to huddle together at centre court was an incredible act of humility which I found refreshing to personally witness. This act of unity was one of the most memorable moments that stand out in my mind. (Right next to the cheerleader’s POV).
As a parent, I truly believe that one of our main roles is to create positive experiences that our children can reflect back on fondly as adults. This definitely was the case for Mic Boogie’s son as well as my Little Guy. They both had a blast and I’m truly thankful and appreciative to NBL Canada for creating a great product and an incredible experience for them to enjoy.
Congrats once again to the London Lightning for being named the inaugural NBL CHAMPS!!
PS - If you’re interested in seeing more photos from the NBL Finals game, they can be found here.