NBLC Playoffs: Canadians Spearheading Championship Aspirations

NBLC Playoffs: Canadians Spearheading Championship Aspirations

Four out of seven Divisional Finals games have had Canadian leading scorers

By José Colorado

Americans may hold some of the bigger name draws when it comes to the NBLC Division Finals but it will likely be a Canadian ultimately responsible for punching its team's ticket to the championship round as a slew of homegrown talent has taken centre stage in the past two weeks.

In fact in four of the seven games played thus far between the Atlantic and Central Division Finals a canuck has laid claim to the game-high points total.

Digging deeper however one can see that when a national player has led his club in scoring the end result has been a 3-3 (win-loss) record, meaning there has been little drop-off in securing wins when it has indeed been the case.

ATLANTIC DIVISION FINALS CANADIAN STANDOUT: TERRY THOMAS

Of the most notable, Terry Thomas must be acknowledged in the Atlantic as the Dartmouth-native has averaged 24 points, six rebounds and five assists on 43 per cent shooting from the floor for the series including pouring in a game-high 31 points on April 27.

Instead of the Canada's Court year-end All – Canadian Team(s), Thomas was selected to the honourable mentions if one will recall due to an eligibility issue regarding games played.

Had Thomas completed the requirement however the 27-year-old would have easily secured a spot on the First-Team as he has been a regular standout in the NBLC for years with his fearless attacking and scoring mentality.

CENTRAL DIVISION FINALS CANADIAN STANDOUT: CARL ENGLISH

In the Central, the St. John's Edge Carl English has been reborn following a 22-game absence as he was averaging 19.33 points per game on 44 per cent shooting from the floor through the first three games of the Divisional Finals.

An abysmal Gm.4 (eight points on one-of-10 shooting) slowed those averages noticeably but English nonetheless has led his club in scoring on two separate occasions already in the second round, continuing a tradition of tormenting the KW Titans.

The Newfoundland product's superb comeback must come as a slight surprise given the 38-year-old has battled a handful of injuries throughout the 2018 -2019 campaign, resulting in the sharpshooter's dreadful field goal percentage at 37.33 per cent (although he is shooting 39 per cent from deep and 86 per cent from the free-throw line).

THE OTHERS

The Titans' Ashton Smith (game-high 25 points on April 22) and the Edge's Murphy Burnatowski (game-high 25 points on April 26) and Olu Ashaolu (game-high 20 points on April 28) are the other local players to have spear-headed their squads to date.

Of the four remaining rosters only the Moncton Magic have had an American lead the team in scoring in every match as its Canadian players primarily remain specialists (e.g. Denzell Taylor – rebounding, defense, Jason Calliste – three-point shooting).

Halifax-native Gentrey Thomas comes as the lone exception in the roster but with Trey Kell playing the same position and at such an excellent level, it has proven difficult to see Thomas with many minutes at the moment.

In a Final Four where high-end players such as the Magic's Kell, the Edge's Glen Davis and Hurricanes' Mike Poole are involved, it must say something when Canadians are not only holding their own but proving they too are capable of owning the heightened pressure.

The league has increasingly upped its Canadian roster player quota and this year's playoffs have perhaps strengthened that case even further.

If NBLC brass indeed chooses to do so in the future, they should rest easy in knowing Canadian players seem more than capable of providing a quality product equal to its counterparts south of the border.