EDMONTON, AB (August 23, 2021) -- It was never in doubt. The Edmonton Stingers became the first repeat champions of the Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) with a convincing 101-65 win over the Niagara River Lions in front of 2,710 ecstatic fans at the Expo Centre in Edmonton.
Xavier Moon, the only MVP the league has ever known, added another title to his basketball resume by claiming the Finals MVP Award presented by Jostens. The Stingers guard recorded a double-double with game highs of 28 points (24 in the second half) and 10 assists. He shot 12-for-18 from the field, including four-for-five from beyond the arc.
Despite the spotlight on Moon, this was an incredible team performance. Edmonton registered 36 assists on 41 field goals. It was the most assists ever by a team in any CEBL game – regular season or playoffs.
"It's what we set out to do,” said a champagne-soaked Jermaine Small, head coach of the Stingers and 2021 CEBL Coach of the Year. “You visualize these things and they happen. It almost feels like it's not real sometimes. And then it just became reality. They came out and they played real hard. I got to give them (Niagara) a lot of credit. They're good. We just wanted more."
It was the play of Calgary, Alberta native Mathieu Kamba that put this game out of reach early. The Stingers forward took control of the second quarter, pouring in 12 points, missing only one shot in the frame. Kamba vaulted Edmonton to a 42-29 lead at halftime. He finished the game with 18 points, four rebounds and two steals.
The 29 points by Niagara was the fewest in any half in CEBL playoff history.
A big play in the game occurred when Stingers forward Jordan Baker drew an offensive foul on Niagara forward Javin Delaurier at 8:37 of the second quarter. It was his third personal foul and forced Delaurier, the league’s leading rebounder in the regular season, to play a tentative remainder of the half. He finished with just 13 points and three rebounds.
So it was fitting that Baker, the protector of the team since Day One, scored the winning basket on a layup. Falling to the floor, the pride of Edmonton was quickly surrounded by his teammates acknowledging the difficult feat that no other team has done in the league. Winning consecutive seasons.
Niagara was hopeful that the addition of forward Tommy Scrubb, who was not in the lineup on Friday would provide an added spark for the River Lions. The Scrubb Brothers (Phil and Tommy) shot four-for-seven from the field in the opening frame, however the rest of the River Lions team went 0-for-eight.
Phil Scrubb led all River Lions players with 17 points, six assists, and three steals in a losing cause. Tommy Scrubb finished with 15 points and six rebounds in 39 minutes.
“I feel like we kind of hit a bit of a wall,” said River Lions Head Coach Victor Raso. “That is a good basketball team (Edmonton) who was just hungry for every loose ball. A a couple of loose balls in the beginning of the third quarter went their way. They were feeling really good about themselves. Our guys started to lose a bit of confidence and started to get drained and they just kind of put the pedal to the metal.”
The 36-point margin of victory was the largest in the CEBL postseason. The previous mark was 20, set by Fraser Valley in their 104-84 win over Guelph in this year’s quarterfinal.
"Our saying this year was to recalibrate,” concluded Small. “We knew we had to get better, and we know we were everyone's best shot. This was special. I think guys are going to want to come back and win a third."
The game was the culmination of an incredible week celebrating the game and culture of Canadian basketball. In addition to a series of community basketball events, 2021 CEBL Championship Weekend showcased the CEBL Awards on Wednesday and a series of top musical acts including Roy Wood$, and an incredible halftime spectacle from Kardinal Offishall and 4Korners.
The 2022 CEBL Championship Weekend is scheduled to take place in Ottawa.
Championship Weekend Schedule
Semifinals: Friday, August 20, 2021
(2) Niagara River Lions 84, (4) Fraser Valley 82
(1) Edmonton Stingers 94, (6) Ottawa BlackJacks 87
Championship Game: Sunday, August 22, 2021
(1) Edmonton Stingers 101, (2) Niagara River Lions 65