London celebrations

London Lightning extend perfect start to season with inter-league win

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The National Basketball League of Canada stumbled upon a promising and timely partnership just when things were looking at their worst.

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When the Moncton Magic and Halifax Hurricanes folded last year and the St. John’s Edge couldn’t find a place to play, it left the Island Storm in Prince Island -Édouard as the only team in the Atlantic Division.

But league vice president Audley Stephenson contacted his friend and former NBLC commissioner Dave Magley, now president of the Basketball League in the United States.

“That was the starting point and the conversation turned to what it would be like to play against each other,” Stephenson said. “I think we have stumbled upon something that works. You have two independent leagues working together, supporting each other.

The London Lightning beat the Lansing Pharaohs 104-90 at Budweiser Gardens in their first of six games against TBL opponents on Sunday afternoon.

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Wins and losses will count in the standings for the Lightning and the other three Ontario NBLC clubs, but not for TBL teams.

“It’s just a natural fit for us,” Stephenson said. “I think we are only scratching the surface. We already announced in April that we would be doing a joint all-star game and I don’t think it will be for this year, but we could very well see a situation at the end of the season where the two league champions play The one and the other.”

The new alliance benefits both leagues.

“For their players, they have the opportunity to see another level of basketball, in some ways a higher level of basketball,” Stephenson said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we see some of these (TBL) players show up in our league because they’ve shown well.”

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Lance Adams led the Pharaohs with 28 points and Muhammed El-Amin with 17 points. Adams went 8 for 13 from three-point range.

Lightning head coach Doug Plumb said he doesn’t have much information on Lansing ahead of Sunday’s game, but he does know a little about El-Amin, who was kicked out of camp. Bolts training in 2019. Plumb also played against El-Amin in Europe. .

“Muhammed El-Amin is a certified assassin of a goalscorer,” Plumb said.

“I was playing in Hungary. It was my first year as a pro. I played against this guy Muhammed El-Amin. I had no idea who he was. I was probably the best I’ve ever been in basketball in those days and played really good defense, but he absolutely burned me.

The Bolts improved to 4-0 with Sunday’s victory, but Plumb said his team could have been better.

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“We’re winning right now while we’re still figuring things out,” he said. “It’s hard not to play and then come in and maintain a lead down the stretch against a desperate team, but I would have liked to see a bit more discipline from our (players) bench.”

NBLC veteran Terry Thomas, who just joined the Lightning about a week ago, led London with 19 points.

The Pharaohs have just started their first season in the 42-team TBL.

Lansing coach Scott Newman, a former Windsor Express assistant, said his team has veterans, but most players are younger and aspire to reach a higher level. He said facing off against bigger and better NBLC talent would definitely help their development.

“It gives our players the opportunity to see the next level of professional basketball,” he said.

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Stephenson said the league hasn’t given up on bringing back the Atlantic Division.

“We want to keep building the whole league,” he said. “We still have two teams there. There are options.

However, the return to the field is already the league’s biggest win this season.

“I can’t say how excited we are to be back,” Stephenson said. “It underlines everything. We’re playing and celebrating our 10th year in business at a time when it was uncertain whether we would return, so we’re really, really thrilled.

The Bolts’ next game is Wednesday at 7 p.m. against the Kitchener-Waterloo Titans at Budweiser Gardens.

The Lightning host the Syracuse Stallions of TBL on Saturday, March 19 at 7 p.m. and Flint United on April 3. They visit the Albany Patroons on March 31, Lansing on April 9 and Flint on April 10.

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Lightning 104, Pharaohs 90

London score: Terry Thomas 19, Mareik Isom 12, Amir Williams 12, Jordan Jensen-Whyte 12, Cameron Forte 10

Lansing score: Lance Adams 28, Mohammed El-Amin 17


following

Wednesday: Kitchener-Waterloo Titans at London Lightning, 7 p.m.

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