Defending champion Honey Badgers kick-off 2023 CEBL season against BlackJacks
Year five of the Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) tips off on Wednesday May 24 at 7:30 pm ET, as the 2022 CEBL champion Brampton Honey Badgers visit the Ottawa BlackJacks at TD Place Arena.
The game will be nationally televised live on TSN 4/5 and will also be available for streaming on TSN+, CEBL+ powered by BetVictor and on CEBL Mobile app available on iOS and Android devices.
If the dynamics of a season opener aren’t exciting enough for both teams, it’s also a rematch of their championship semi-final game from last year. The Honey Badgers won that contest 76-72 in what was a back-and-forth affair that ended up being decided in the Target Score period.
The playoff bout was the last of three matchups between the two teams in 2022. The first went to Brampton 86-75, and the second went to Ottawa 104-95.
Factors to look out for in this game are going to be fast break points and three-point shooting. The team to win the transition battle won two out of three games last year, and the better team from distance went 3-0. Brampton shot 34.6 per cent in the three games compared to Ottawa’s 25.7 last year.
A key difference in this matchup compared to last season will be the absence of reigning CEBL Canadian of the Year Caleb Agada. The guard-forward played in all 21 games for Brampton in 2022 and was the team’s leader in average rebounds (6.0) and assists (5.1). Agada also put up a team high 19 points in their first win against the BlackJacks on July 2.
However, the Honey Badgers come into this season with seven players having prior CEBL experience, six of which were on their 2022 Championship team. This includes 2022 CEBL finals MVP and team-leader in points Christian Vital (17.4 points per game), and reigning CEBL Sixth Man of the Year Koby McEwen.
Another interesting name in this roster will be Cody John. He rejoins the club after playing in Ottawa in 2022. The 6-3 guard averaged 8.5 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 1.8 assists in 11 games for the BlackJacks.
Ottawa has maintained continuity as well as they come into this season with five returning players along with two players who have NBA G-League experience. Jackson Rowe is back and expect him to take on a greater role for his second season with the team. The forward put up 9.4 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 1.7 assists last year.
Ottawa will miss the presence of former Cleveland Cavaliers forward Deng Adel who re-signed with the team for the 2023 season in free agency. Adel is unavailable owing to playing commitments with his current team BC Balkan Botevgrad in Bulgaria. He averaged third in assists (4.5) and rebounds (8.9) for the team in 2022.
Notable editions for the BlackJacks ahead of this game include guard Elijah Pemberton and forward Khalil Miller. Pemberton spent the last three years with the Santa Cruz Warriors in the NBA G-League averaging 12 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.9 assists. Miller was the 2022-2023 OUA defensive player of the year while playing for McMaster University. He averaged 2.5 blocks per game, led the league in total blocks and finished second in total rebounds.