Morreale hoping for loud crowd in Calgary for third window of BCLA competition

The Edmonton Stingers were greeted by a raucous crowd, fireworks and a drum line in their two recent Basketball Champions League Americas games in Nicaragua.

Mike Morreale hopes the Calgary crowd for next week’s home window of the BCLA will bring as much passion.

“The environment was crazy,” said Morreale, the CEO of the Canadian Elite Basketball League. “I guess it would mimic European soccer or Latin American soccer — dramatic, intense and loud.

“You’re playing in an open-air environment, so there’s wind coming through and (30 C) at night. So it’s like holy, you get a lot thrown at you at once.”

The Stingers are playing in the Champions League Americas, by virtue of winning the CEBL title last season.

After going 1-3 in two windows in Nicaragua, the Stingers head to Calgary’s WinSport Arena for their third and final window of group play, with a quarter-final berth on the line.

They’ll play group-leading Cangrejeros (3-1) of Puerto Rico on Monday, and Real Esteli (2-2) of Nicaragua, the runner-up of last year’s tournament Wednesday.

The Stingers need to finish in the top two to play in the Final 8 next month.

Morreale said the tournament so far has been a great learning experience.

“We’re playing against guys, if you count up both the Esteli and Congrejeros rosters, there’s probably six to eight national team guys have been played together for a decade,” he said. “The culture is completely different.

“But what an incredible experience, win or lose — and we prefer to win, but even a loss, you learn a lot. And then you’ve got to know we have to put that to test in Calgary.”

The Stingers roster is comprised of players around the CEBL, which plays over the summer.

Guard Jahmal Jones is the only player to play for both the Stingers in the 2021 season as well as all three windows of the BCLA competition. He’s joined by guard Junior Cadougan, forward Murphy Burnatowski, and center Chad Posthumus as the only four players to play in each leg of the tournament.

Posthumus, who recently re-signed with the Ottawa Blackjacks, has averaged 12.3 points and 10.3 rebounds to lead the Stingers through the first two BCLA windows.

Morreale said the Calgary games will be a test run for the city. After expanding to nine teams for the upcoming season with the addition of the Montreal Alliance and Scarborough Shooting Stars, Calgary has been on the league’s radar for future expansion.

“It’s not the only determining factor where we’ll go next. But it’s also an opportunity for us to experience the market and have them experience us as well,” he said.

Calgary was also chosen to host this window because the Stingers’ home at the Edmonton Expo Center was closed for construction.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 12, 2022

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