The 2021 CEBL champion Edmonton Stingers are returning to a home — of sorts — for the third and final window of group play at the FIBA Basketball Champions League Americas (BCLA) competition.
After heading to Nicaragua for the first two windows of play in December and early March, the Stingers will call WinSport Arena in Calgary, home for their fifth and sixth games of the tournament on Monday and Wednesday.
The Stingers will play the group-leading Cangrejeros on Monday at 9:30 p.m. ET before facing Real Estelí, the runner-up of the 2021 tournament, on Wednesday at 9:30 p.m. ET. Both games will be streamed live on CBC Gem, the CBC Sports app and CBC Sports’ website.
Sandwiched in between those two games will be Cangrejeros against Estelí on Tuesday, a contest that has implications on the Stingers’ seeding.
Edmonton currently sits in third in their three-team group with a 1-3 record, trailing the 3-1 Cangrejeros and 2-2 Estelí, but a quarter-final berth is still within reach. The Stingers need just a top-two finish in Group A to qualify for the Final 8, set for early April.
The top two teams in each of the four groups will play a single-elimination tournament to crown a champion, with a spot at the 2023 FIBA Intercontinental Cup on the line.
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What the Stingers need to do to advance
Playing from behind in the group, stacking losses on Monday and Wednesday would eliminate the Stingers from the BCLA competition.
The bare minimum that Edmonton needs to accomplish in the third window to still have a chance to advance would be winning Wednesday’s game against Estelí.
Should the Stingers beat Estelí but lose their Monday game against Cangrejeros, they would need Cangrejeros to return the favour by topping Estelí on Tuesday. This result would see the Stingers take second in the group via tiebreak over Estelí.
If Edmonton wins both games, they would only be guaranteed a top two finish if Cangrejeros beats Estelí.
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Should the Stingers win both games and Estelí also beats Cangrejeros, the most convoluted scenario will play out with a three-way tie for first. Given Edmonton’s current point differential of -72 in four games so far, compared to +58 for Cangrejeros and +14 for Estelí, the situation would likely not favour the Stingers.
More of a sense of cohesion with Edmonton roster
A theme that played out over the first two windows was a lack of cohesion on the Edmonton roster.
Playing in more familiar territory in Canada, the third iteration of the Stingers’ roster will still feature guard Jahmal Jones as the only player to play for the 2021 champion Stingers as well as all three windows of the BCLA competition. He will be joined again by guard Junior Cadougan, forward Murphy Burnatowski, and centre Chad Posthumus as the only four players to play in each leg of the tournament.
Posthumus, who will be back playing for the CEBL’s Ottawa Blackjacks in late May, has stood out as a star for the Stingers, averaging 12.3 points and 10.3 rebounds per game, the third highest rate across the BCLA.
Four others on the roster have experience in the tournament including Alex Campbell of Scarborough, Ont., who led Edmonton in points with 21 in their latest game against Estelí. Another four will be participating in their first leg starting Monday.
Alex Campbell went off in @BCLAmericas window 2 💥
See him and the @ED_Stingers live in Calgary at @WinSportCanada starting March 14.
📺: https://t.co/wLyGHzuvHI & @cbcsports #OurGame pic.twitter.com/R8NhQXjDpp
The newcomers to the squad, however, will bring their own sense of familiarity to the team, none more important than forward Jordan Baker.
The Edmonton native led the CEBL in rebounds per game in 2019 and 2020. A versatile player, Baker owns career averages of 14 points, 9.3 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game.
WHAT A WAY TO WIN THE GAME 💪
Jordan Baker does it again to get the @ED_Stingers the Elam Ender pic.twitter.com/K8aSAquItH
—@cbcsports The 30-year-old won the Canadian Player of the year in 2020 and finished as a finalist for the 2019 CEBL Player of the Year award. He was named to the All-CEBL First Team in 2020 and 2021.
Baker will also be joined by former teammate Jordan Davis, a forward who played with the Stingers in 2019 and 2020.