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What is St. John's getting into with NBL Canada?


The National Basketball League of Canada (NBL Canada) will return to 10 teams with the addition of an expansion team in St. John’s this fall.

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That’s because the Orangeville A’s, which had been one of five Ontario-based teams in the circuit, folded this summer. Meanwhile, an expansion team that has been awarded to Sudbury, Ont., will not begin play in 2017-18 as had earlier been suggested, but is now scheduled to start operations the following season.

The yet-to-be-named St. John’s teams joins five Atlantic Provinces carryovers — The Charlottetown. P.E.I.-based Island Storm, the Cape Breton Highlanders (Sydney), Halifax Hurricanes, Moncton Magic and Saint John Riptide. The Moncton franchise had been known as the Miracles, but the nickname changed as part of an off-season restructuring of the team.

The five Maritimes entries play out of the same facilities as Quebec Major Junior Hockey League franchises.

The four remaining Ontario teams are the K-W (Kitchener-Waterloo) Titans, Windsor Express, Niagara River Lions and the London Lightning.

Lightning owner Victor Frijia is also president of the league, which has been without a commissioner since the resignation of David Magley in the early part of this summer.

The defending champion Lightning are seen as NBL Canada’s most successful franchise, and not just because of their success on the court. London averaged 5,429 fans per game last season, while the league average was just under 1,800.

The league was founded in 2011 with seven teams, including three that had been part of the Premier Basketball League.

The salary cap per team is $150,000 per season, with rosters of players, including at least two Canadians. The vast majority of players in the league are Americans, most of them out of Division 1 NCAA programs.

In 2016-17, after each team played a 20-game regular-season, eight clubs advanced to the playoffs.

The Lightning’s Royce White, a 2012 first-round draft pick of the NBA’s Houston Rockets, was the NBL’s most valuable player last season.

 

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