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Alliance continue search for first win against Honey Badgers

Montreal Alliance Ahmed Hill - CEBL Photos
The Montréal Alliance (0-3) continue a three-game homestand on Sunday by hosting the Brampton Honey Badgers (2-1) at Verdun Auditorium for an Eastern Conference Clash.
Action begins at 4:00 p.m. ET with live coverage available on CEBL+ powered by BetVictor, TSN+,, the RDS app and on the CEBL mobile app available for iOS and Android devices.
It hasn’t been an ideal start for this year’s Championship Weekend host as Montréal has lost three consecutive games to open a season for the first time in franchise history. There is reason to be optimistic however despite sitting at the bottom of the East, as the Alliance have plenty of control over how the rest of the season shakes out.
Not only are they guaranteed a spot in the postseason as host city, but Montréal’s game against Brampton kicks off a streak of 10 games vs. the Eastern Conference. So, if the Alliance want to figure out how they stack up against the East and topple the teams above them, chaining together wins during this stretch could go a long way.
And despite being winless entering Sunday, Montréal can at least take solace in the fact that each game has been more competitive than the last. After losing by 20 points to the Vancouver Bandits, the Alliance kept things much closer against the league’s two remaining undefeated squads, losing by 6 and then 4 points to the Saskatchewan Rattlers and Edmonton Stingers.
What’s ailed Montréal is an inability to effectively hold leads -- costing them in back-to-back games even after being ahead entering the fourth quarter of both.
For what it’s worth, much of their troubles appear to stem from a lack of three-point consistency and ball security. Montréal currently ranks last in the league, shooting 29.2 per cent from beyond the arc. As the only team in the CEBL to convert from distance at a sub-30 per cent rate they often end up trading threes for twos which makes it much easier for opponents to catch up.
Besides that, the Alliance can’t seem to keep hold of the ball as their 16 turnovers a game is second-most in the league – hurting them repeatedly in key moments.
For instance, Montréal may have finished with just 14 turnovers against Saskatchewan, but 10 of them came in the second half as they blew a 23-point lead. Against Edmonton, they gave the ball away seven times in the fourth quarter alone, part of a season-high 20 turnovers in the loss.
Thankfully for Alliance fans, help is on the way with the signing of Guillaume Boucard – the 2019 Canadian Player of the Year – and the return of Derrick Alston Sr., the team’s head coach.
Boucard brings three years of CEBL experience, all with the Niagara River Lions, averaging 16.1 points, 7.4 rebounds and 2.4 assists on 32 minutes a game. Meanwhile, Alston Sr. is set to join Montréal on Monday after wrapping up his season in Mexico, taking back the helm from interim head coach Ryan Thorne.
The Honey Badgers may not be entering the matchup on the heels of three consecutive losses, but they’ll still have plenty to prove. After starting the season with back-to-back victories and arguably shutting down some of their skeptics, Brampton got hit with a 43-point loss to Niagara.
It was the largest margin of defeat for any team since July 2022, and bad enough of an outcome to put the Honey Badgers impressive start into question.
Granted, Brampton was without their L.J Thorpe, their second-leading scorer (16.5 points per game) and top distributor (four assists per game) in the blowout, so it’s yet to be determined if the loss was an anomaly or an indication of what’s to come.
Another major difference between the Honey Badgers two wins and the loss was the play of Zane Waterman. The third year forward was stellar through Brampton’s first two games, averaging 27.5 points and 6.5 rebounds on over 50 per cent shooting from the field. In their first loss of the season however, Waterman was held to just seven points, scoring all his points at the free throw line while going 0-of-4 from the field.
If the Honey Badgers are going to bounce back and reaffirm the belief they inspired through the first two games of the season, it’s clear they’ll need Waterman to return to form as well.
2023 season series

It was a clean sweep for Brampton last year as they won all three contests against Montréal.
In fact, the Honey Badgers are 5-0 all-time against the Alliance, one of just three teams in the CEBL who’ve yet to lose against the Alliance. So, if Montréal pulls out a victory on Sunday, it won’t just be the first win of their season, but also the first against Brampton in franchise history.
Talk about high stakes.