London Basketball Academy will be opening their NPA season at home (H.B. Beal Secondary School) on Monday night against expansion program St. John’s-Kilmarnock. This kicks off a very exciting Southwest Division packed full with top talent.
It will also be a special night in London with Jamie Clark, the head of Saunders Cancer Campaign, having a fundraiser at the home opener.
Another big name with be in attendance. Look out for London Lightening star Royce White making an appearance looking on at future talent Canada has to offer.
LBA will be looking for another strong season after falling just short in the national championship game last year.
LBA will be bringing back a lot of their talent from the previous season and have also revamped their roster adding top players that could take them to the promise land.
The addition of elite talent Okay Djamgouz will give this team a different look from either guard position. New Zealand big man Jonty Vink will also be joining the team in late Nov. and will add a huge presence down low.
Heading into their home opener, head coach Angelo Provenzano has been focusing on the improvement of his team and wants to make another deep run in the National Championship tournament.
“We have been figuring out our strengths and weaknesses and hoping to get better so that we are peaking in Feb.,” said Angelo.
St. John’s-Kilmarnock will be heading to London for their first-ever game in the National Preparatory Association.
The program out of Kitchener-Waterloo will be led by the Serbian Trio of Milan Roknic, Aleks Novcic and Branko Damjanovic.
Head coach, Ahmad El-Osta wants his team to make a statement right away and show the rest of the league they’ll be willing to out-work you.
“Just go out there and work your butt off. Do not give up or take plays off for all 40 minutes. Play together and trust each other and that in itself will show everyone what kind of team we are trying to grow to be,” said El-Osta.
For SJK, the preparation started throughout training camp but as the opening game approached, their practices have been very intense and business like says El-Osta.
“We have put a lot of emphasis on developing everyday both on the offensive end as well as defensively. Our experienced guys are looking forward to the challenge of showcasing their talent.”
El-Osta wants his team to use this opening game as a big learning experience and an opportunity to improve as a team.
“We are approaching tomorrow as another day to get better. We are up against a high level competition and we will go in there and work very hard. By the end of the night our success will be measured by how hard we play and how well we get better,” said El-Osta.
SJK, Welcome to the NPA! Time to put Kitchener-Waterloo on the map.
Saunders Cancer Campaign
Each year the Saunders Cancer Campaign teams up with Saunders Secondary School to help raise money for the Canadian Cancer Society in support of childhood cancer research.
Clark is well known in the London community for his fight and determination to raise the awareness of the cancer campaign after he suffered such a tragic loss.
“I got involved in the Saunders cancer campaign about 16 years ago. My mom passed away from cancer at the age of 56. I was super close with my mom. The day I came back after she passed away it was the day of our annual cancer campaign and I did the bravest thing I’ve ever done. I got up on stage and talked about my mom and what she meant to me and what it would mean to me if we could raise a little extra money in her memory. From that point moving on, I became super involved in the cancer campaign at Saunders,” said Clark.
Cancer affects so many lives and has become something that affects almost every family. Personally, my aunt is a breast cancer survivor and has become the strongest person I know.
Over the years, Clark has witnessed first hand at the Saunders Cancer Campaign just how many lives cancer has affected.
“We do an exercise every year where we ask the kids to stand up if they know somebody who has been affected by cancer in some way or another. Almost the whole school is standing up. It’s a pretty powerful moment. But equally powerful, is when we asked the kids to stand up if they know somebody who has survived cancer. Again, almost the whole school stands up. This is why we are so involved in helping in the fight against cancer. To make a difference for other people,” said Clark.
Connecting with LBA became the perfect fit for Clark because of the high energy they bring and all the great work they do in the community.
“We are super excited to be able to partner with the LBA, as they are such a community-minded group and we always do our best in the cancer campaign to help our community.” Clark continued to say, “With the LBA being at Saunders, and seeing the kind of commitment the kids have to the sport of basketball and knowing how much their coach gives back to the community in so many different ways, when I was approached to connect the LBA to the cancer campaign, it seemed like a perfect fit.”
The Saunders Cancer Campaign has raised over $600,000 to help kids affected by cancer. With the amazing growth, Clark his high hopes they can keep raising the amount they make each year.
“This year, we hope to be able to raise over $40,000. We’re super excited and are looking forward to meeting a fun challenge!” Clark continued to say, “We usually end up raising somewhere between $35,000 and $50,000. Every year, we have a wide range of activities, including bake sales, silent auctions, girls touch football games and buyout events. We also donate on average ten ponytails every year to help make wigs for people going through chemotherapy. This year, we are also running a Relay For Life event as well as our traditional cancer campaign.”
This year the Saunders Cancer Campaign has connected with LBA and will be accepting donations at the door, which will go directly to helping kids affected by cancer.
The amazing night at H.B. Beal Secondary School only gets better with NBL star Royce White in attendance.
White was previously drafted 12th overall by the Houston Rockets in the 2012 NBA Draft after a very successful season at Iowa State.
White is currently playing with the London Lightening and can now enjoy watching the future generation grow and develop.
“I love the game, so it’s always fun to watch future generations play the game. Especially the high school level, where players are just starting to grasp skills and systems at a higher level. It’s not long ago I was in high school myself, the game changes significantly from previous levels,” said White.
SJK vs. LBA is the opening game in the Southwest Division and it should be a battle with both teams having something to prove.
Tip off is scheduled for Monday, Oct. 30, 7:15 PM ET.