In front of over 7,000 fans, who came to watch the first professional basketball game at the Videotron Centre, elite players from all 10 CEBL teams showed out for their respective conferences.
Vancouver’s Marlon Johnson Jr. finished with a game-high 20 points and was named the MVP of the Clash. Johnson Jr. also sealed the contest with a game-winning jumper from just outside the free throw line in target score time.
“I’m kind of surprised,” Johnson Jr. said of the Fizz Player Of The Game selection after the game. “But I’m just glad that everyone came out here and had fun tonight, that’s what it was all about. It was a phenomenal experience.”
Both teams began the game with a playoff-like intensity, as the Quebec City crowd erupted with every behind-the-back pass and long three ball.
“I think [Quebec City] is a great basketball market,” said Charles Dubé-Brais, assistant general manager and assistant coach for the Montréal Alliance, in a mid-game interview.
“The response today was amazing and we can see the growth of the sport in the area here. I think [basketball] has grown across the country and Quebec is no stranger to it. It would be very fun to see what a team could do here.”
Jackson Rowe, representing the Ottawa BlackJacks for the eastern conference, started the scoring with a three pointer. He was fouled in the process of the shot but missed the free throw. Despite the miss, the east still raced out on a 11-2 run to begin the game, which was capped off with a Jahvon Henry-Blair triple that came from just inside the CEBL Clash logo on centre court.
A second Vancouver Bandit, however, slowly clawed the western conference back into the game.
Alex Campbell scored nine of his 15 points in the first half, while AJ Hess came off the bench to drill a three that made it a two-point game after one quarter.
Both teams traded long balls to kick off the second quarter, and Calgary’s Sean Miller-Moore gave the west their first lead of the game on a jumper halfway through the frame.
Montréal’s Alain Louis, though, forced a timeout by west head coach Nelson Terroba after steamrolling to the hoop and getting a layup to fall—pushing the east out in front 51-47. The east took a six-point lead into halftime.
Following the break, Rowe drained a three pointer out of a set play and the east maintained a slim lead. Rowe finished with a team-high 19 points on the afternoon, while Henry-Blair also recorded 19 points. Scarborough’s Kyree Walker, fresh off a CEBL title, scored 18 points in the contest.
But Johnson Jr. came alive in the third, scoring eight points in the frame to keep the west within striking distance.
Cody John sunk a turnaround jumper with seconds to go in the quarter to make it a 86-84 game.
Both teams then ramped up the defensive intensity in the fourth. Jordy Tshimanga converted a three-point play to give the west a three-point lead heading into target score time. Although Rowe started target score with a three ball, the west responded with a 7-0 run to come within two points of the win.
Johnson Jr. ended the game a couple possessions later by snagging an offensive rebound and getting a jumper to rattle home.
“We all wanted to come out here and have fun, that’s what we did,” Johnson Jr. said. “And get that little money.”
The CEBL Clash also officially marked the end of the 2023 CEBL campaign. Earlier in the week, the league announced that the Montréal Alliance had been selected to host Championship Weekend in August 2024.
Mike Morreale, commissioner and co-founder of the CEBL, applauded the fans in both Montréal and Quebec City during the Clash—adding that the province has consistently turned out quality NBA and CEBL talent and deserved to host today’s competitive matchup.
“The province needed to be recognized,” Morreale said in a mid-game interview.
“We have over 7,000 fans here today, it’s an incredible building, great hospitality and it’s a pleasure to be here.”