I knew this day would arrive. It had to.
Full disclosure. I’ve worked with the National Basketball League of Canada for the past ten years, working in statistics and player clearances.
More full disclosure. I’ve worked with the Albany Patroons for many years, doing everything from game photos to PA announcing to broadcasting to post-game recaps.
In 2022, the NBL returned from a post-COVID shutdown. In an effort to fill out their schedule, the NBL’s four Ontario-based teams are playing an interlocking schedule with teams from the American-based TBL basketball league, a league that includes the Albany Patroons. And in that, the Patroons are scheduled tonight for their only contest against an NBL Canada squad.
And they ended up with a team on a tear.
See, the London Lightning are four-time NBL Canada champions. They currently possess a 10-0 record, and a win tonight over Albany would give them a league-record 11-0 start, no NBL Canada team has ever reached that mark to start a season.
At the same time, the Albany Patroons are 14-0 in home games, having not lost a contest on the Armory floor since a double-overtime loss to Jamestown way back in 2019. Since that loss, the Patroons won the 2019 TBL championship, won six home games in their COVID-aborted 2020 season, and are undefeated at home this year.
As the old Frank Sinatra song goes … something’s gotta give.
Honestly, the Patroons and Lightning have more in common than you might realize. London’s roster has included several former Albany Patroons on it. Xavier Moon, for instance. And Marvin Phillips. And Gabe Freeman. Oh, and Micheal Ray Richardson, who won a 1988 Patroons championship as a player, and two London Lightning championships as a coach. The Patroons have also had Lightning players on their roster, most notably big man DeAndre Thomas from the 2017-18 season.
So what we have here is a battle of the top two teams in independent professional basketball.
This is gonna be good.
But who do I root for? Where does my loyalty go? Am I team Black and Gold, or team Gold and Kelly Green?
Gotta ponder on this concept.
And I think I have the solution.
Both teams need to play to a tie. Then a second tie. Then a couple of more overtimes.
Then, when there aren’t enough players left on the benches due to fouling out … just end the game in a tie, shake hands, and all is well. Ties are not bad things. It sets up a rematch down the road.
Besides, I’m sure we’ll see some players from both teams in a few weeks when the TBL and NBL meet in an inter-league All-Star Weekend in Syracuse.
I’m okay with rematches.
Besides … someone has to win this game tonight. I’m okay with either team winning.
Just don’t ask me to pick a team that might not win. I’m gonna have a little issue with that. 😀