Provincial rivalry fuelled
London Community News
By John Matisz/London Community News
About 240 kilometres—the distance between Point A and Point B—feels a lot closer when the only two Ontario-based National Basketball League of Canada (NBL) squads, the London Lightning and Oshawa Power, clunk heads.
Saturday night (Nov. 19), in front of 2,127 at the John Labatt Centre, the most western franchise in the NBL took down their adversary from across Highway 401 by a score of 105-93. For the Lightning (6-2) it was revenge, defeating the Power (3-4) after dropping a 100-96 overtime decision to Oshawa the night prior.
With an after-game altercation between London head coach Michael Ray Richardson and Oshawa forward Akeem Wright topping off an ultra-heated affair, the stage is certainly set for the next meeting between the two squads Dec. 8. Following said match in Oshawa, the Power will travel to London two days later and then back to Oshawa the next day, Dec. 11.
“It’s just a little bit of basketball,” Richardson said, downplaying the words and looks exchanged between him and Wright. “Every time you play a game, put a uniform on, it’s a rivalry.”
The in-game feud Saturday night featured a battle between the top two defenses in the league. A dominating 29-point, 11-assist and four-rebound performance from Lightning guard DeAnthony Bowden stole the show, however.
Newcomer and former National Basketball League (NBA) player Rodney Buford—who was acquired by the Lightning from the Halifax Rainmen before Thursday’s game versus the Quebec Kebs—hit a three-pointer with less than eight minutes left in the game. Though seemingly irrelevant to the final score, the bucket’s deliverance—a 3-on-1 long-range dagger—sunk the Power’s chances of mounting a comeback.
“I live for breaking hearts,” said Buford, 34, who went 3-for-6 from beyond the arc and ended up with 13 points. “The guys’ heads went down on the other side (after my shot went in) and we took advantage of it.”
To boot, a notable rebounding performance from teammate Shawn Daniels, as well as a total of six players hitting double figures in points, helped keep the Lightning atop the NBL standings with the victory.
“We came out with a sense of urgency,” Richardson said. “Shawn (Daniels) came out tonight and he asserted himself early.” Daniels, a Utah State University product, grabbed 12 rebounds while Canadian guard Nick Lother contributed a season-high 14 points.
Buford, who spent time with five NBA franchises back at the turn of the century, played just his third game for London. He and 6-foot-6, 250-pound power forward Shamari Spears are the Lightning’s two newest additions.
“It’s better for two guys to get in sync than the whole team,” Buford said of the transition so far. “I’m playing more, I’m running more; guys are listening to me and it’s making things easier.”
Trailing 48-32 at halftime after shooting just 27 per cent from the field, the Power mounted a respectable comeback in the third quarter. Unfortunately for Oshawa, the damage was done before halftime hit, as star guard Morgan Lewis was rushed to hospital after colliding with a Lightning player.
Team officials said the NBL’s first overall draft choice suffered a laceration over his eye, a pair of cracked teeth and possibly a concussion.