NBL of Canada action returns to Summerside tonight
SUMMERSIDE — The Summerside Storm should not be lacking any motivation for tonight’s home game against the Moncton Miracles here at Eastlink Arena.
That’s when the Storm has their first chance to bounce back from a disappointing 118-113 home loss to the Halifax Rainmen on Wednesday. Halifax outscored the Storm 29-17 in the third quarter, and led by 11 with about a minute remaining.
“We need to have a bounce-back game,” said Storm head coach Joe Salerno on Thursday afternoon. “The Boxing Day game, we were a little complacent, I thought, especially on the defensive end.
“If you put 113 points on the board you should win that game. With us this year, it’s been a focus on defence.
“I think 12 of our 18 games we’ve held teams to under 100 points. Yesterday (Wednesday), mentally, we weren’t into it for a full 48 minutes, and it was a tough loss. Friday night, we’re looking to bounce back.”
The loss to Halifax prevented the Storm from taking over sole possession of first place in the parity-filled Atlantic Conference of the National Basketball League of Canada.
Now, the Storm, losers of two straight, must win to prevent the Miracles moving past them into second place.
The Saint John Mill Rats sit atop the conference at 9-7. The Storm is 9-9, Moncton is 9-10 and Halifax is 8-9.
“Saint John went from last place to first place in the course of a week,” said Salerno. “Obviously, you want to be in first place in your division, but I want to be in first place in the division come mid-March (at the end of the regular season). The way this division is you could go from first to fourth very quickly, and the next week you could be back up in first place. . .
“We are just about at the halfway point of the season, and I certainly think we’re better than a .500 ball club.”
Omari Johnson made his Storm debut against Halifax.
“Omari is a very good shooter and he was missing some jumpers,” assessed Salerno. “I don’t think he is quite in game shape yet, but he will get there very quickly.
“He had 15 (points) and 10 (rebounds) in 22 minutes for us. He’s going to be very effective for us, and he will play a very large role for us this year. Each game he’s going to get a little more comfortable.”
This will mark the fifth meeting of the regular season between the Storm and Miracles, with Summerside winning three of the first four.
It will be the first time the Storm will face the Miracles since Dennis Truax took over as head coach from the fired Ricky Benitez and small forward Tyrone Levett was released. Levett is now with the Rainmen.
“They still obviously have some very good shooters on the perimeter,” said Salerno. “Devin Sweetney is leading the league in scoring (22.42 points a game), Darrell Wonge is one of the all-time leading scorers in the NBL and they still have some size underneath. . .
“I expect to see a feisty team again as it always seems to get a little heated when we play Moncton, which is good for the game. I think it’s going to be a tough game, and they are going to spread the floor.
“(Guard Oliver) McNally has been a great point guard for them this year, and really distributes the basketball. We will have our hands full.”