Hosts Oshawa Power tonight
SUMMERSIDE – The Summerside Storm won’t be letting up for their final home game of the inaugural National Basketball League (NBL) of Canada season.
The team hosts the Oshawa Power at EastLink Arena tonight, with game time scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
While the Storm can’t make the playoffs this year with their 12-22 (won-lost) record, the Power could still be in post-season contention depending on the result of their Thursday night contest against the Saint John Mill Rats.
But Storm head coach Joe Salerno said Friday’s game is more about getting a win for the P.E.I. fans that turned out in droves to see the team play this year.
“I don’t think being the spoiler is as important to us as it is to winning for these fans here,” he said. “For us, it’s just having a nice final home game, and coming out with a win.
“The energy will certainly be in the building, our guys are excited for it and we should be ready to go.”
Oshawa sits at 14-20 in fifth place in the seven-team league, and just ahead of the Storm. Saint John holds the fourth and final playoff spot with a 16-18 record, so two Power wins, combined with two Saint John losses, could make the playoff race interesting.
Unlike his coach, Storm point guard Al Stewart had a different view when asked if he’d relish being a spoiler to Oshawa’s playoff push.
“I mean, great,” he laughed. “We’re here to win too, and we’re not just going to give them a gimme.
“Oshawa’s one of the team’s in the league that I love playing against. It’s always an up and down type of game.”
This will be the sixth meeting between Summerside and Oshawa this season, with the Storm holding a 3-2 edge.
In order to finish their home schedule with a win, Salerno said his players will have to buckle down on defence against the Power’s shooters.
“They (Oshawa) have three of the top 15 players in this league in Omari Johnson, Morgan Lewis and Brandon Robinson, so we really have to take at least two of those guys away,” he said. “There’s been games when all three of those guys have gone off for 20-plus points. . . so we really have to key on stopping two of those guys. I think if we go out there and have fun, we play better basketball.”
Stewart said he also plans to play hard, but have fun on the court Friday night.
When asked if he has any special plays up his sleeve for the home crowd, the thought drew Stewart’s customary smile.
“I may bring some tricks out of the basket, try and get a dunk off,” he said. “I can dunk, but people don’t think so. We’ll try to make it as fun as possible.”