HALIFAX, NS – It took three games, but the Halifax Rainmen got their first win in the National Basketball League of Canada on Thursday. After being struck by the London Lightning in their first two opening games, Halifax bounced back with a 121-95 win over one of their newest Maritime rivals, the Moncton Miracles at the Halifax Metro Centre. CIS scoring champ and St. Mary’s alum, Joey Haywood, had an impressive performance in his first start for the Halifax Rainmen. Haywood went 9-9 before making his first miss in the fourth quarter. The former streetballer out of Vancouver finished with 21 points (10-12), 6 assists, 4 rebounds and two steals in 27 minutes of play in the win.
Although the Rainmen were shorthanded on big men, without forward DeAndre Thomas, Halifax was dominant on the boards, outrebounding the Miracles 58-35, which included 25 offensive boards. The Rainmen lost their star big man, DeAndre Thomas just one game into the season due to an indefinite suspension for a “violation of league and club policies” according to the Rainmen press release. But Eric Crookshank, who was also suspended for one game prior to Thursday, put in work on the boards for the Rainmen, pulling down a game-high 11 rebounds for Halifax. Halifax forward, Lawrence Wright, led the Rainmen with 26 points on 11-13 shooting.
Wright credited the defence as the driving force in Thursday night’s win, “The first two losses really pushed us to work harder in practice this week. We were preparing for this game, we just wanted to focus on this game and not what we did in the past” said Wright. “We tried to step it up on defence, that’s basically all we concentrated on was defence the whole week and you could tell that our defence was much better against Moncton rather than London.”
For the Moncton Miracles, from the beginning, they failed to stop the Rainmen from shooting, allowing Halifax to shoot 51.7% from the floor. Halifax was able to capitalize off second chance opportunities, scoring 21 points off the offensive rebounds. The Miracles were outscored in all four quarters and now are 0-3 on the season. Jazzmar Ferguson led the Miracles with 19 points.
Thursday’s game was also the debut of two new Rainmen signees, Orien Greene and forward Richard Delk. Greene has an impressive basketball resume with over 130 games of NBA experience including 80 games with 2005-06 Boston Celtics. Delk is a Tennessee native and is the nephew of former NBA player, Tony Delk. Delk was signed by the Atlanta Hawks in 2010 but was waived before the regular season. Greene had 8 points and 4 assists in his Rainmen debut in just 18 minutes of play. Delk had 6 minutes of garbage time play and just went 0-1 from the floor.
The Rainmen are under a new coach this season, with Josep “Coach Pep” Canals at the helm. Pep comes into the season with a serious approach to winning this season and will only grant playing time to the players that put in the most work this season, “The starting five is not really important. I try to be fair with my players,” said Pep. “I don’t think we’re going to have a starting five. The starting five in a close game, you will see at the end of the game. That’s the starting five.” Pep has close to twenty years of coaching experience both internationally and with the NCAA.
Coach Pep looks to take a no-nonsense approach this year’s Rainmen roster ensuring that the team will be widdled down to the players who will be “professional”, “We’re going to clean house until 12 players that you see are full-time professionals on the court and off the court” Coach Pep said after Thursday’s game.
Halifax plays the Summerside Storm on Sunday in Halifax. Gametime is 2:00pm AST.
- St. Mary’s Alumni and Nova Scotia Hall of Fame inductee, Will Njoku, is an assistant coach for the Moncton Miracles
- Mike Evans Jr., son of former Halifax Rainmen coach, Mike Evans, is currently a member of the Miracles Roster.
Follow Romy Aquino on Twitter @romyaquino