RATTLERS OPENING GAME RECAP
The Saskatchewan Rattlers battled from being down by as much as eleven points to defeat the Niagara River Lions 92-89 in their CEBL season/home opener on Wednesday evening.
The Rattlers trailed for most of the game, only leading in the opening minutes of the contest. After being down 29-18, they fought back to make it 41-40 with just a second to go before halftime, but Khalil Ahmad sunk a hail mary from well over midcourt to make it 44-40 at the break.
The River Lions also led 83-78 at the beginning of Elam Time (Elam Time is the first whistle with under four minutes remaining in the game and then nine points is added to the leading team’s score and that determines the end of the game) and even went up 85-78 before the Rattlers posted a captivating rally.
Devonte Bandoo, who struggled for most of the game, drained a three pointer to give Saskatchewan a 90-89 advantage. Ahmad, who lit up the scoresheet with a game high 34-points, missed a three point shot, as did Ej Onu and then the Rattlers came up the floor and the River Lions fouled Jordy Tshimanga and he made good on both shots from the charity stripe, sending the crowd home happy.
The Rattlers had a nice balanced attack on offense with Scottie Lindsey leading the way with 23. Guards Bandoo and Tony Carr were cold in the first half, combining to go 4-for-23 from the field but they heated up in the second half. Carr had 17 points, 6-rebounds, and 10-assists. Bandoo ended up with 14. Danish import Sebastian Aris (A-Reese) had a hot hand going 3-of-4 from three point land and also finishing with 14. Tshimanga, who brings obvious size that the team was sorely lacking a season ago, had 14-points and 12-rebounds.
TAKEAWAYS - This is the biggest sports secret in Saskatchewan. Even if the Rattlers had lost, there is lots to be entertained about. Ahmad dominated the entire night and if it not been for him, the Rattlers would have won uncontested. There are dunks, alley oops, big league rejections, everything that you’d see in an NBA game. Tickets are affordable to say the least…I purchased a three-pack and my ‘all-in’ is $100 a seat ($33 per game and I’m mid-court six rows up from the floor)…Bandoo was the team’s best player last year and too often he was without help of any kind. Last night, there were other players who stepped up when Bandoo wasn’t feeling it, although when the game was on the line late it was Bandoo that made key shots.. Lindsey hit 5 threes and Aris was very effective. Tshimanga has the potential to be a real dominating force along the glass and they sorely lacked that a season ago. I can’t help but think a come from behind, tight win against the second place team from last year will do wonders for the confidence of this group after game one. The Rattlers play again on Sunday, at Edmonton, to face the defending champion Stingers.