Wednesday, October 15, 2014

NBLCNET Rivalry Series: Brampton A’s vs. Mississauga Power


Peel Region rivals Brampton A's and Mississauga Power  tip-off 2014-15 NBL Canada season


With the 2014-15 NBL Canada season set to tip-off on November 1, 2014, the level of excitement is beginning to rising. To contribute to the buildup, NBLCNET is launching it’s “Rivalry Series” highlighting some of the top games the league has to offer.

There are three major rivalry games to begin the season. 

In the Atlantic division there’s a battle between Moncton Miracles vs. Saint John Millrats, a match up highlighted when the two teams met in the 2011-12 Wild Card Series. Then there’s the big Central division tilt between defending champions Windsor Express and arguably the NBLC’s flagship franchise in two-time champion London Lightning, a meeting between the only two teams to have won the league title as well as going toe-to-toe in a seven game series during last seasons Central Division Final.

Both of those rivalries have cemented themselves through iconic playoff battles, however there’s a new rivalry that joined the league last season and promises to become just as fierce in time. That match up features two teams from Ontario’s Peel Region, the Mississauga Power and Brampton A’s.

HISTORY

The 2013-14 season was the first for both teams in their respective cities. 

Originally been located in Oshawa from the leagues inception, the Power franchise decided to relocate to Mississauga in order for owner Henry Chow and the organization to be closer to corporate sponsors. The city has proven itself to be a natural fit, capitalizing on the the communities strong appetite for basketball.

Brampton joined on as the newest expansion franchise to NBLC backed by James Tipping and Athlete Institute, a strong ownership group with a background in the sports seeing the city as a perfect market to set up shop. Showing an equal level of passion for the sport and diverse population,  having two teams so close to each other sets up an interesting dynamic for future seasons.

Each team naturally has its own set of fans and through community outreach, youth programs and basketball camps are alway looking to grow their respective brands as well as future generations of players and fans. However with both cities in many ways intertwined with each other, the battle for “neutral” or “casual” fans in the area will be just as interesting and important than seeing both teams face-off on the court. 

Speaking of on the court battles, the first year of the rivalry has been dominated by the A’s after posting a 6-1 record in against Mississauga during the regular season

This includes a historic 107-95 road victory in their first ever meeting, a game was dominated by A’s guards Cedric Moodie. The 6-foot-2 guard finishing two assists shy of a triple-double, his final line reading 21 points, 12 rebounds, eight assists and included going 5-for-10 from beyond the arc.

The Power’s lone win over Brampton came in front of the home fans on January 30, 2014 by a 118-102 score, the second game of a home and home where Mississauga dropped the first game 129-96. The top performer on that night was Power guard Morgan Lewis, finishing with a game-high 37 points and shooting an efficient 14-for-15 from the field. 

THE NEW SEASON

Finishing with an 11-33 record made it a year to forget for the Mississauga Power, ending in a three game series sweep in the Central Division Semifinals to eventual champion Windsor Express after just squeaking by 103-100 in the Wild Card Series against the Ottawa Skyhawks.

A coaching change took effect, Kyle Julius replacing David Joseph at the helm. Julius, a former Canadian men’s national team player, becomes the first Canadian coach in the league and first former NBLC player to turn in his jersey for a suit on the sidelines. 

Coming into the new season, the big news surrounding Mississauga is the loss of Morgan Lewis. The NBLC and Power organization’s first ever draft pick is now playing with Al Hilal in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and it will be interesting to see how the team copes without him. One player that will intently become a face of the team is Alex “Superman” Johnson, becoming the first Canadian to be drafted in league history and making the 2013-14 NBL Canada All-Star Game along with Lewis, he becomes the face of the franchise and will instantly need to take on more of the guard responsibilities.  

For Brampton, they finished second in the Central division with a 27-13 record before falling to the London Lightning in game five of the Central Division Semifinal. Coach David Magley returns for a second season looking to improve on a great foundation, an inaugural season that saw the club win Expansion Franchise of the Year and see a few players receive individual honours. 

The team returns seven key players from last season. Most notably the veteran scoring guard, team leading scorer and league leader in triple-doubles in Cedric Moodie and the front court is anchored by reigning Defensive Player of the Year, NBLC All-Defensive Team and league leader in blocks Cavell Johnson. 

EXPECTATIONS

In year two of this rivalry, it shapes up to be a competitive battle both on and off the court. 

On the court, Mississauga seeks to turn things around under an all-Canadian coaching staff while Brampton will be looking to entertain the fans with a stated goal of averaging 130 points and in the process go one step further and make it to the Central Division finals. 

However, the battle off the court and in particular for fan support promises to be just as interesting. With the Powerade Centre (Brampton A’s home) and Hershey Centre (Mississauga Power’s home) only a mere 10km from each other, it will be interesting to see the size of the crowds and how many visiting fans come out to each venue.