Canadian Men’s Basketball Championship: quite a challenge awaits the Rouge et Or for its first match

Even if he owes his presence to the fact that he hosts the event and that he rubs shoulders with the favorites in the curtain-raiser of the Ultimate 8 of men’s basketball, the Rouge et Or of Laval University believes that anything can arrive at the moment of a match.

Eliminated in the RSEQ semi-final by the Concordia Stingers in a match where they sold their skin dearly, the Rouge et Or will cross swords, Friday at 6 p.m. at PEPS, with the powerful Victoria Vikes who are seeded first favorites for a second consecutive year. This is Laval’s first national appearance since 2008.

“Yes we enter the national through the back door and yes we can be considered impostors, but anything can happen in a match without tomorrow,” summarized head coach Nathan Grant. It’s clear that we want to win, but we have no pressure. The guys believe in themselves, they believe they can do it.”

After a very difficult start to the season, the Rouge et Or did better in the second half of the calendar. Grant believes his flock can continue in the same direction. “Our two-win, eight-loss start hurt, but the guys remained confident and motivated. We did well in our last six or seven games. We beat UQAM twice, beat Western which was in the Top 10 at that time and lost to St. Francis Xavier in overtime. We are capable of creating great surprises.”

Only one player has nationals experience

The only player in the Rouge et Or who has the experience of a Canadian championship, Haris Elezovic agrees. “It’s not because we are last that we can’t win,” said the former McGill Redbirds player who joined the Rouge et Or for his master’s studies. With McGill three years ago, we were also far in the table. We’ve been watching Victoria for a week and we’re motivated. It’s an incredible experience to participate in a Canadian championship. I hope the guys will take away the same experience as I did.”

An exceptional player who has already scored 94 points

The Vikes are banking on a player that everyone describes as exceptional. Western Conference MVP for the past two years, guard Diego Mafia was the sixth player selected in the last CEBL (Canadian Elite Basketball League) draft by the Vancouver Bandits.

As good as everyone says? “He’s even better than people think,” Grant said. We’re preparing for him, but it’s going to be quite a challenge.”

Don’t be surprised if he attempts a shot from the center of the court like a certain Stephen Curry. Mafia scored 94 points in 2019 in a game while playing in high school.

RSEQ Champions

Champions of the RSEQ for a second consecutive year, the Citadins de l’UQAM appear in Quebec as the third favorites. In their first game they will face the Ottawa Gee Gees who obtained the wild card after being surprised by Brock in the playoffs.

Last year in Halifax, the Citadins came very close to causing a surprise in the tournament by losing in the quarter-final by two small points to the Carleton Ravens who left Nova Scotia with another medal. Golden.

Champions 11 times over the last 12 years, the Ravens will however be conspicuous by their absence this year.

A first in Quebec

The Canadian men’s championship is the first in history contested in Quebec. An essential step according to the organizers. “For the influence of our sport, it is really important that young people see the best,” said the director of Sports Activities Services (SAS) and former Rouge et Or star player Julie Dionne. Sometimes young people dream of the NCAA, but there is really good basketball here. Young people will see role models they can relate to.”

“It would be wonderful if the Rouge et Or won and we will cross our fingers that a miracle happens,” continued the president of the organizing committee Charles Fortier, “but people will be able to go home after seeing a good show even if their favorites are no longer there. During my career, I would have dreamed of playing a national at home.

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