Summerside team blew a large lead in the opening game against the Windsor Express
SUMMERSIDE — One of the true signs of a championship-calibre team is how they respond to a heart-breaking loss.
The Summerside Storm will take that exam at Eastlink Arena tonight at 7 p.m.
The Storm will host the Windsor Express in Game 2 of the best-of-five semifinal series in the National Basketball League of Canada playoffs. The Express overcame a 28-point deficit in the second quarter to take Game 1 by a 114-112 score on Sunday afternoon.
The Storm went into the second half up 23 points, 70-47, before they went ice cold shooting. One statistic that stands out from Game 1 is the Storm missed a total of 20 shots from the free-throw line, including 11 in the second half.
So the question Storm fans are asking is how will the team respond?
“For us it’s going to be mental being able to bounce back from a tough loss where you give up a big lead,” said Storm head coach Joe Salerno, whose team went into the playoffs on a seven-game winning streak. “Windsor is going to be playing with a lot of confidence.
“We’ve certainly dug ourselves a hole . . . going 26-of-46 in a big game from the free-throw line; we didn’t deserve to win the game. Hats off to Windsor. Game 1 is over and let’s move to Game 2.”
A media release issued by the Storm on Monday morning called tonight’s contest the biggest game in franchise history. However, Salerno would not go as far as saying it’s an absolute must-win situation.
“It’s a five-game series,” said Salerno. “It’s not going to be a must-win until we are down 2-0, and I don’t expect us to be down 2-0 after Tuesday.”
Express head coach Bill Jones knows his team has a golden opportunity to take a two-game lead back to Windsor for Games 3 and 4, if necessary, on Thursday and Saturday.
However, Jones also acknowledged it won’t be easy.
“We will look for them (Storm) to adjust,” said Jones. “They are a good team, they won their division and I love Coach Joe. We look forward to them coming back and battling.
“They do not want to lose both games at home, so I expect them to come out and fight like the true champions that they are.”
After a long trip to Summerside, Jones was looking forward to his team getting a good full night’s rest on Sunday, having a good practice on Monday and then a shoot-around today.
The Express did not have a shoot-around on Sunday as Jones opted to let his players rest.
“We’ll get back into our regular routine,” said Jones.
The Express brings an eight-game winning streak into Game 2 as they charged to a second-place finish in the Central Division down the stretch.
“We’ve been playing in playoff atmospheres for the last two months trying to get to the playoffs,” added Jones.
Both teams practised at Eastlink Arena on Monday afternoon.