River Lions drop opener
The Niagara River Lions opened the Canadian Elite Basketball League regular season Wednesday night with a 92-89 road loss to the Saskatchewan Rattlers.
Niagara head coach and coach GM Victor Raso told the CEBL website that it was a game that his team pissed away.
“Haha, not my best choice of words but we did,” he texted, en route by bus from Regina to Edmonton. “We were ourselves for moments but we didn’t play with great intensity at times. We played well, then took our foot of the gas, played well, foot off the gas, for the whole night. And then we didn’t play with the urgency when we had the lead in Elam.”
Raso is far from discouraged by his squad’s play.
“I think our team can be very good, but we need to be much more accountable to our responsibilities,” he said. “The biggest takeaway was that we need to ensure that we are clear on our responsibilities and never take our foot off the gas.”
Khalil Ahmad led the River Lions with 34 points, eight rebounds and four assists.
“Khalil was very good,” Raso said. “He made it look effortless at times but we also can’t rely on him for 37 minutes. We need to be better offensively and let him shoulder the load at specific times and not for the entirety.”
Also contributing for the River Lions were: EJ Onu with 14 points, seven rebounds and five blocked shots; Alonzo Walker and Munis Tutu with 10 points apiece; and, Jaylen Babb-Harrison with eight points.
Leading scorers for Saskatchewan were Scott Lindsey (23), Anthony Carr (17), Jordy Tshimanga (14) and Sebastian Aris (14).
Next up for the River Lions is a Friday road game versus the Edmonton Stingers.
“Starting on the road is great because you need to learn how to be good in tough environments and it always enhances the things you need to work on,” Raso said. “The Saskatchewan crowd was good and Edmonton will be a very tough place to play for their home opener.”
The team is then at Guelph Tuesday before playing its home opener against the Montreal Alliance next Friday at 7 p.m. at the Meridian Centre.
Season tickets, voucher packs, marquee matchup packs, group tickets, and single game tickets are on sale now. Visit www.riverlions.ca/tickets for more information.