NBL Canada Finals Preview: Halifax Hurricanes vs London Lightning
Returning to the finals once again this year, the Halifax Hurricanes are looking to keep the London Lightning at bay to defend their championship. Fighting off the Island Storm in a nail-biting series, the Hurricanes had little time to recover as the team hopped on a flight to visit their rivals on their home turf. Gearing up for an exciting series, the Halifax awaits the chance to cheer on the hometown team on Tuesday night when the third game of the series returns to the Scotiabank Centre.
Reflecting on previous series and looking at the win against P.E.I., Coach Leslie acknowledged that the win came with a lot of mixed emotions. “I know quite a few of the players and although you need to win, you want to want to win and you love to win, there was a little twinge of bittersweetness to go along with it,” he explains in regards to eliminating his former team.
As the Hurricanes eye the championship for the second consecutive year, one of the focal points many will be watching is former Hurricane Joel Friesen as he takes to the court against the teammates he shared the 2016 championship with. “It’s a little unique to play against a player who was on a championship team the year before,” explains Leslie. “Joel has had a great season with London and I’m sure he’s looking forward to the challenge,” says the coach.
Understanding the challenges ahead, Leslie knows that the team has their work cut out for them. “We are going to have to be very good defensively to detain that and to get us down to a workable number to detain that,” he explains. “It is going to mean good shot selection for us at our end so we don’t get beat in transitions and it means not turning the ball over as much.”
As the teams are set to square off in Halifax with the series tied at one apiece thus far, being aware of every move is important. The tension is palpable in the air; however, the Hurricanes are able to find solace in their reliable fan base here in Halifax. A sophomore team, the Hurricanes have proved they are here to stay and are accepting nothing but the best – whether it is on the court or off the court with the blossoming fan base.
The Hurricanes know that despite the hard work and hard fought series up to this point that they have their work cut out for them. “It’s going to be a challenge for sure. They didn’t get to where they are today by walking through powder puffs on the other side,” says the coach when discussing the impressive London Lightning.
Despite the uphill battle Coach Leslie remains confident in his players says that he “knows that we’ve got our work cut out for us. We’ve battled from day one with a rushed training camp to me being new to the scene. The players have always adapted and I don’t expect any different this time around.”
As the Lightning return to the Scotiabank Centre Tuesday night, Coach Leslie’s optimism will be felt by fans throughout the city as the defending champions battle for the lead in the exciting championship series.