More high quality basketball is always a good thing right?
That’s what the organizers behind the Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) are banking on. The new professional league will start with six teams, with the lone BC team being located in Abbotsford.
Heading up the basketball side of things for the CEBL is Joe Raso, former Canadian National team assistant coach. One of the most respected men in Canadian basketball, his 35+ years of experience at different levels will almost certainly make the on-court product entertaining for the fans from the outset.
“This league was very different in that it’s branded from the top down” said Raso to BC Sports Hub on what excited him about this project. “They’ve got incredible organization, they’ve got this brand that puts this league together and know exactly what they want. [. . .] That really interested me because there’s a vision here, and there’s a big Canadian content vision and a big quality vision.”
The CEBL from the very beginning will be over fifty percent Canadian, with players from the U Sports and NCAA as well as Canadians playing in leagues across Europe planning to take part. It’s a commitment to make this a place for Canadian talent to start their professional journey, as well as for the many Canadian already playing professionally to play close to family and friends over the course of the summer. Running from May to September, it doesn’t conflict with any college seasons or professional leagues overseas.
“The pool of talent will be very large” Raso explained. “The nice thing about playing when other leagues aren’t playing is a lot of players will then take the advantage of coming back and playing in our league.
The pool is completely across the country. It is players who are playing professionally, it is players who seek to play professionally. For some it will be their first step into the pro ranks, for others it will be another league they will play in over a long career.”
Canada is currently going through a basketball renaissance over the last decade. It is now a real possibility for the top Canadian ballers to showcase themselves in the NBA. Now more than ever, a professional basketball league dedicated to Canadian players truly does make sense.
“There was a dream once that Canadians had of playing professional basketball” said Raso. “It’s a reality now. We’ve got the second amount of players in the NBA of all countries in the world. And that means we’ve got a lot of players playing overseas and all over the world. It’s time now for some of those players to come back and play here.”
The lone BC team, the Fraser Valley Bandits, will play out of the Abbotsford Centre starting next May. The other five teams will be located in Edmonton, Saskatchewan, Niagara, Guelph, and Hamilton. Season tickets are currently available for sale.
Written by: Nick Bondi