The Saint Patrick Celtics play such a unique, exciting style, both teams could be wearing drab grey jerseys and you'd know exactly who they were.
Their fast-paced, run and gun style of play has entertained fans who have come out to watch The Big Ticket so far. The entire program — both the junior and senior team — play the same system that allowed both teams to make the semi-finals out at Abbotsford Senior.
"Push the ball up and play a lot of crazy defence" explained head coach Nap Santos when asked to describe how his team plays. "We’ve got those guys that can pressure the ball and kind of force things. We can force them to take bad shots, then get the rebound and push. But even if they do score, we’re looking to push right away."
"[When] we’re out there working hard then the defence starts rolling, we get steals, we force bad shots, we get rebounds" continued Santos on the Celtic way. "If we’re forcing them to take bad three’s, it’s always going to be long rebounds. Anyone can get those rebounds."
"We just play really tough defence, get a lot of steals, and as you said, run and gun," said co-captain of the senior team Payja Santos.
For Saint Patrick's and Nap Santos, their method of the game will be tested to the limit this season. The Celtics have moved up to the AAA after being one of the top teams in AA for the past few seasons. It's an adventure Santos feels his players are ready for.
"I’ve been doing this for a long time, and the program has gotten better and better" he explained. "I think we can make a good run. But we’re going to work really hard. The kids have bought into what we do. Hopefully, we can keep the momentum."
"We have less of a target on our back," said Payja Santos on the move up to AAA. "Last year we were ranked third and everyone was coming out for us. This year we’re ranked in the Honourable Mentions so we’re more of the hunters going for the hunted."
And if The Big Ticket is any indication, they might be a dark horse candidate come later in the season. Although they fell short of making the final, their tournament as a whole should allow them to build confidence heading into the rest of the season.
Said the bench boss on the tournament "[The kids] actually watched the games last year and they were like ‘can we get into this, it seems pretty cool.'
For me, it’s tournament number one out of the eight that we’re going to be in. But there are a lot of good teams in this so I’m proud they were able to get this far."
The players feel the same sense of determination.
"We’ve been playing well," said fellow co-captain Nick Triska. "All the boys are pretty hyped about the games and it just shows how much competition we have ahead of us."
Whatever happens during the rest of the season, rest assured that the Celtics will not be intimidated to play a style that has got them so many admirers.
Written by: Nick Bondi