© Guardian photo by Brian McInnis
Island Storm’s Antonio Ballard defends against Halifax Rainmen’s Jason Williams during a recent NBL of Canada playoff game in Charlottetown.
Two-time NBL of Canada all-star and league MVP finalist Antonio Ballard of the Island Storm has signed a contract to play pro basketball in Switzerland this season with the Lugano Tigers.
This will be his first time playing professional basketball in Europe for Ballard.
The Tigers, formed in 1981, last won the Swiss Cup in 2011 along with the League Cup, national championship, and played in the Euro-Challenge tournament that year.
“We are extremely happy for Tone to be moving on and taking the next step in his professional career,” said Storm head coach Joe Salerno. “It was a very lucrative offer in Switzerland, one he just couldn’t turn down.
“Antonio has had more of an impact on the floor then almost any other player that has put on a Storm jersey over the last three seasons, so he will be greatly missed. It’s a great career move and one I am certain Tone will make the most of it. Nobody plays harder than Antonio Ballard and for that reason alone he will be successful wherever he goes. We wish him all the best for this upcoming season in Switzerland.”
Ballard, twice named NBL of Canada player of the week last season, averaged 21.56 points per game for the Storm while grabbing almost 10 rebounds per game and shooting 50 per cent from the floor.
Ballard played two years for the Storm, averaging similar statistics both years with career game highs of 35 points (twice) and 20 rebounds.
The Storm recently hosted a successful summer basketball camp in Charlottetown.
The team has three more camps planned for this summer — Aug. 5 to 8 at Westisle Composite School; Aug. 11 to 14 at Morell Regional High School; Aug. 18 to 21 at Three Oaks Senior High School in Summerside.
Camps are free and space is still available at all three locations.