The Fraser Valley Bandits, three games into their inaugural season in the CEBL, are going through some growing pains.
Not that they weren’t expected as a first year franchise in a first year league. But their 102-88 loss to the visiting Hamilton Honey Badgers shows that there still needs to be a gelling period for all the players just getting accustomed to one another.
“I think we just have to find a bit of a fight” said Levon Kendall, who signed with the team just a few days ago. “Fight within our team and figure out how to get the ball moving.
We had moments where the ball was swinging side to side and we were getting good looks and everybody was contributing, and other times where it was pretty ugly. We gotta figure that out and get some wins.”
The Bandits held serve for the first half, trading the lead and points back and forth with the visitors. However, a buzzer beating three at the end of the half swinged a 44-43 Bandits lead to a 46-44 Honey Badgers lead.
From that point on, the floor was tilted the way of the team from Hamilton. They went on a 16-7 run to start the third quarter and never look threatened afterwards. Players like Ryan Ejim of the Honey Badgers were able to clean up on the boards on both ends of the floor, denying the Bandits any sort of late game comeback.
“I think the two things were effort and shot selection” said Kendall on what changed in the second half. “The ball just kind of died, we weren’t really moving the ball really well. We also didn’t have the energy on defence. Sometimes you can get away with that if you’re playing tough defence and rebounding and playing with energy, but we weren’t doing both of those things.”
Just like the Bandits, Kendall is going through an adjustment period on the basketball court as well. Signing just a few days ago with the team, it was his first professional game in over three years after playing professionally overseas for a decade. Kendall also represented Canada internationally for close to 12 years, and played Division I basketball at the University of Pittsburgh.
“I’ve got a couple kids, couple of businesses, coaching” Kendall explained on what he did in his three year hiatus. “I’ve still been able to get into the gym occasionally playing with my friends here and there. The last couple of months I’ve been a little bit more focused on getting my body ready and making sure everything is firing.
Hopefully I can pick up a bit more momentum and get accustomed to the bumping and pushing that’s hard to simulate in the gym.”
A local guy, Kendall had an outstanding high school career with the Kitsilano Blue Demons. They went 84-5 and won two back to back provincial championships in his time there — a very impressive resume. He can vividly remember the Grizzlies being in town, and wants to be a part of the next pro basketball team that hopefully can entertain basketball fans.
“I think the basketball community in Vancouver is definitely hungry from some good quality basketball and some pro basketball” he said. “We lost that with the Grizzlies, and hopefully that can develop this league and that can fill a bit of that void. [. . .] I don’t have too many more years of playing given my age but if I can help get things off the ground and be a part of it would be great.”
The Bandits next home game is June 13th against the Saskatchewan Rattlers.
Written by: Nick Bondi