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Stingers’ remaining champions aim to continue dominance of BlackJacks

CEBL Edmonton vs. Ottawa CEBL Edmonton vs. Ottawa - CEBL

The championship ties run deep in Edmonton, the lone CEBL franchise to win multiple titles. 

Ottawa can only look on and wonder ‘what if.’ The BlackJacks were eliminated by the Stingers in both the 2020 and 2021 semifinals, then fell one game short of the Finals once again in 2022. 

The teams will meet once again on Wednesday at TD Place Arena for Ottawa’s home opener at 7:30 p.m. ET / 5:30 p.m. MT. Live streaming coverage is available on CEBL+ and TSN+. 

After a 2023 campaign in which both squads were bounced in the quarterfinals, Edmonton chose to double-down on its past. 

Ex-Canadian Player of the Year Jordan Baker added general manager to his title along with head coach after taking over on the bench last season. Baker played a key role in both Stingers championships. 

The Edmonton native will lead a team featuring Adika Peter-McNeilly, his former Stingers teammate who remains a starter in the current iteration of the squad.

The coach was also a selling point for guard Mike Nuga, who came over from Saskatchewan in the off-season.

“I’m a fan of how coach Baker approached the game as a player and am excited to be able to learn from him as a coach,” Nuga said. “The goal is a championship, and that’s what I’m giving 110 per cent of my effort to in Edmonton.” 

The Stingers also imported a player who’s been around champions in Jacob Evans III, a Golden State Warriors draft pick who was part of the team that lost to the Toronto Raptors in the 2019 NBA Finals. 

So far, Edmonton’s plan is paying off. The Stingers opened their season with a 97-79 road victory against in-province rival Calgary despite a record crowd of 12,327 at the Scotiabank Saddledome. 

Ottawa didn’t enjoy the same success in its first game of 2024, falling 99-82 against Brampton. 

But the BlackJacks may just need some time to click as they await the returns of 2023 starters Deng Adel and Zena Edosomwan, who are currently completing their professional seasons overseas.

In the meantime, Ottawa will rely on Brandon Sampson for much of its offence. Sampson, one of two players along with reigning MVP Teddy Allen to ever score 40 points in a game, paced the BlackJacks with 25 against the Honey Badgers in the loss. 

Ottawa and Edmonton will see each other twice this season, with the return matchup taking place in Edmonton on June 20. 

Key Matchup 

Seasoned CEBL veterans Peter-McNeilly and Lloyd Pandi will reacquaint with one another as opposing guards for the Stingers and BlackJacks, respectively.

The Canadians have each played in their domestic professional league since 2020, and they faced off in the 2021 CEBL Finals while Pandi was with the River Lions, with Peter-McNeilly’s Stingers winning in dominant fashion. 

Pandi, the Carleton grad, returned to Ottawa this season, contributing 14 points and eight rebounds in his first game back. Peter-McNeilly, meanwhile, scored 15 points and snagged four rebounds in Edmonton’s opening-game victory. 

Milestone Watch 

● Edmonton’s Peter-McNeilly, of Scarborough, Ont., needs 11 assists to reach 200 for his career, including playoffs 

● Edmonton’s Brody Clarke, of Toronto, is 10 assists away from 100 for his career, including playoffs

2023 Season Series 

Ottawa upended Edmonton 91-85 on the road in the teams’ lone matchup last season