It was a short week for the Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) and the Edmonton Stingers have only had 1 game so far. It was a narrow victory as they hosted Hamilton, but they probably shouldn’t have let the game get as close as it was.
The first half was near perfection. The Stinger defense was swarming, causing many turnovers and miscues as well as really racking up fast break opportunities. That’s what really stood out to me the most, whether they got the ball off a steal, rebound or inbounds after a score, this offense was looking to run. There’s plenty of dangerous fastbreak weapons on this team too, so it makes sense to play that way.
One thing I didn’t like as much was the 2nd half intensity. The team started to coast a bit, and the execution on both ends of the floor waned. Foul trouble became an issue (Kamba, Peter-McNeilly and Skeens all had to sit on the bench for much of the game) partly due to bad fouls or refs just calling infractions on us because we were up.
Eventually the team’s play during Elam time was enough to get them the victory!
Now we’ll take a look at our 2 new guys. Marlon Johnson Jr. was absolutely the player of the game. He had 27 points including the game winner. He made several mid-range jumpers, and hit a 3 too to keep defenses honest. But everyone’s favourite part of his game was the thunderous dunks he kept throwing down! Here’s a cut to the hoop and an assist from Kamba:
Whether he was slashing in the half court set or the trailer on a fast break, Johnson continued to punish Hamilton (and the rim).
Our other new starter is Brady Skeens. He did sit for quite a bit of the game due to foul trouble. But, the small amount he did play showed us exactly the kind of output he’s going to have.
Skeens had 6 points going perfect from the floor on 3 attempts. Every basket was right at the rim. He’s not going to venture too far out if the key looking for baskets, so expect the high percentage shooting to continue. Here’s his basket during Elam time:
That’s a great find from Johnson to get the ball to a senaky Skeens under the basket.
The Stingers only have 1 game this week as well, they host the Niagara River Lions on Friday, July 2nd. Let’s take a quick look at their opponent.
Niagara is 1-1 and has looked like a Jekyll and Hyde team so far. In their win at Ottawa, they looked like the team that took the floor in 2019. Boucard was racking up steals and points like his Canadian of the Year campaign, Robertson was getting shots from wherever he wanted and Babb-Harrison only missed a single 3 on 9 attempts. If this group shows up in Edmonton it’ll be a tough game to win.
However, in Abbotsford the River Lions were exposed. Lacking a solid point guard (initial signings Bell-Haynes and Scrubb are not currently with the team) their offense was stifled. Boucard and Robertson were held to 0 points. It looked like the awful Summer Series version of Niagara. The lone bright spot was brand new import Xavier Sneed exploded for 35 points.
As long as we can punish them with our guard play, I think the Stingers come out on top in this one.
One other side note, this is the only scheduled meeting between these teams this season. Which is a shame as it has been the best East-West rivalry in the league so far, each match has either been very close or has had quite a bit of animosity and chippiness between the players.
I can’t wait for tomorrow’s game, let’s see how it plays out!
As always, Defend the Hive!