In what’ll be the final game of the 2023 CEBL season, the Scarborough Shooting Stars (-167) and Calgary Surge (+120) go head-to-head for the championship. The contest will tip-off at 4:00 pm local/7:00 pm ET from the Langley Events Centre on Sunday night.

The game will be nationally televised on TSN 3 and also available for streaming live on TSN+, CEBL+ powered by BetVictor, and on the CEBL Mobile app available for iOS and Android devices.

Scarborough make it back to the final for the second consecutive season, this time looking to come out victorious, after losing to the Brampton (then Hamilton) Honey Badgers in the championship game a year ago. Meanwhile, the Surge (formerly the Guelph Nighthawks) will be playing in the final for the first time in franchise history, as both teams try to win their first CEBL title.

It will be the second contest between the Eastern and Western Conference champions this season, and first since Scarborough picked up a 79-65 win. It was a convincing victory for the Shooting Stars in a contest where they never trailed after the six-minute mark of the second quarter. 

Despite Scarborough missing 11 free throws on the night, they were still able to manage a 14-point win thanks to their dominance on the interior. Scarborough shot 60 per cent from inside the arch compared to Calgary’s 42 per cent, earning the team a +12 edge on points inside the paint as a result. The Shooting Stars didn’t just make their presence felt inside by scoring the ball, they also managed to outwork the Surge on the glass, as they ended the game with a +9 advantage on rebounds.

However, if Scarborough hope to replicate that performance and be crowned champions of the CEBL, they’ll need new players to step up. The likes of David Walker who put up 15 points while going a perfect 6-6 from two-point range, or Thomas Kennedy, who notched an 18-point, 13-rebound, double-double won’t be with the team this time around.

Fortunately for Shooting Stars’ fans, their current role players have stepped up one-by-one during their post-season run. In their play-in win versus the Honey Badgers, Kyree Walker led the way with a season-high 25 points, only to be followed-up by Isiaha Mike who tallied a season-high 24-points of his own in the conference semi-finals victory against the Ottawa BlackJacks. 

In their latest 74-71 win against the Niagara River Lions, it was Gedi Juozapaitis that put his stamp on the team’s run to the final with a season-high 13 points off the bench. The guard knocked down four of Scarborough’s six triples on the night in his 15 minutes of action, helping the team clinch the East in the process. Other contributors included Kalif Young who had a double-double by way of 11 points and 11 rebounds, and Cat Barber who led the way with 15 points, six rebounds, and two steals.

Barber continues to be the team’s top scorer (20.1 PPG) and is someone fans should keep an eye on as he found success the last time the Shooting Stars and Surge faced off. In that previous victory for his team, the guard put up a game-high 27 points, four assists, and four steals, and if Scarborough is going to make up for last year’s final loss, a big performance from Barber could go a long way.

Scarborough aren’t the only team with a dynamic guard leading the way for them however, as Calgary’s Stef Smith has been doing the same for his team. The Ajax, Ontario, native has picked up his game this post-season, averaging 20 points per game, most recently notching a season-high 25 points and eight rebounds in the Surge’s 77-75 win over the Vancouver Bandits.

Smith also found success against Scarborough as he was the team’s second-best scorer in that lone matchup earlier this year. Despite the loss, the guard put up 17 points and six assists and was one of just two players to post a plus-minus rating of 10 or higher for Calgary.

The other Surge player to do so was Simi Shittu, who led the team that night with team-high 21 points and 12 rebounds. He won’t be available this time around so fans should hope for a big game from Jordy Tshimanga, who’s taken over the starting spot. Calgary will surely miss the presence of the league’s best rebounder, but Tshimanga has been filling in admirably. 

His offensive production may not jump out like Shittu’s, but the forward has averaged nine boards these playoffs, and is coming off a 10-rebound game in the team’s conference clinching victory. Tshimanga’s double-digit rebounds led a Surge unit that outrebounded the league’s best rebounding team in Vancouver, on both the offensive and defensive glass. The Western Conference champions will hope he can help them to one more victory and end the team’s inaugural season in Calgary with a title.