Live pro sports returns to Canada this weekend for the first time in months

Jul 23 2020, 8:05 am

For the first time in over four months, live professional sports games will take place on Canadian soil this weekend, including a team that calls the Lower Mainland home.

The first league in Canada to return to play, the Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) will begin a 16-day tournament, dubbed the “Summer Series,” in St. Catharines, Ontario, on Saturday, July 25. All games will be played at the Meridian Centre without fans in attendance.

Every game will be available to watch for free through the CBC website, with seven of the games also broadcasted on CBC television.

In its second season of operation, the CEBL is a summer league, composed mostly of players that play for other professional leagues in North America and Europe during the winter season. The league typically plays a 20-game season, but has had to pivot this year due to the pandemic.

The Fraser Valley Bandits, who play out of the Abbotsford Centre, drew an average of 1,900 fans per game last season, including 3,400 people for their first-ever home game. The Bandits are led by Marek Klassen, a 6-foot-1 point guard from Abbotsford who plays pro basketball in the Ukraine during the winter season.

Other players to look out include Jahenns Manigat, a former three-year captain at Creighton University who can shoot from distance, and former Oregon Ducks power forward Olu Ashaolu, who regularly fills the highlight reel with high-flying dunks.

The CEBL debuted last year with six teams — Fraser Valley, Edmonton, Guelph, Hamilton, Niagara, and Saskatchewan — and has added a seventh team, Ottawa, for this season.

While the pandemic has hit this league hard, getting national television time for the upcoming 26-game competition will give the CEBL more exposure than ever before.

CBC television will broadcast the opening-day double header this Saturday featuring the Hamilton Honey Badgers against the Niagara River Lions (10:30 am PT), followed by the Ottawa BlackJacks debut game against the Guelph Nighthawks at 12:50 pm PT.

The Bandits play their first game the next day, Sunday, July 26 against the Edmonton Stingers at 10:30 am.

All seven teams will be featured on CBC television at least once during the tournament, with the Fraser Valley Bandits getting national TV time against on the Hamilton Honey Badgers on Saturday, August 1 at 1 pm PT.

CBC television will also broadcast the semi-finals on August 8 and the championship final on August 9.

โ€œAs the professional sports league in Canada that has the highest percentage of players being Canadian, the CEBL truly is the league created by Canadians for Canadians,โ€ said CEBL Commissioner and CEO Mike Morreale. โ€œPeople across the country will be able to see for themselves through CBCโ€™s platforms why Canada has emerged as one of the worldโ€™s powerhouses when it comes to producing world class professional basketball talent.โ€

The Summer Series will begin with a round robin format, with the team with the worst record being eliminated prior the playoff round. The top two teams will receive a bye to the semi-final.

Here’s the full tournament schedule:

Date Away Home Time (PT) Broadcast
Sat, July 25 Hamilton Niagara 10:30 AM CBC TV
Sat, July 25 Guelph Ottawa 12:50 PM CBC TV
Sun, July 26 Niagara Saskatchewan 10:30 AM CBC online
Sun, July 26 Fraser Valley Edmonton 1:00 PM CBC online
Mon, July 27 Guelph Hamilton 2:00 PM CBC online
Mon, July 27 Ottawa Edmonton 4:30 PM CBC online
Tue, July 28 Niagara Guelph 2:00 PM CBC online
Tue, July 28 Saskatchewan Fraser Valley 4:30 PM CBC online
Wed, July 29 Edmonton Hamilton 4:00 PM CBC online
Thu, July 30 Ottawa Fraser Valley 4:00 PM CBC online
Fri, July 31 Edmonton Niagara 12:00 PM CBC online
Fri, July 31 Saskatchewan Guelph 2:30 PM CBC online
Sat, Aug 1 Hamilton Fraser Valley 10:30 AM CBC TV
Sat, Aug 1 Edmonton Saskatchewan 12:50 PM CBC TV
Sun, Aug 2 Ottawa Hamilton 10:30 AM CBC online
Sun, Aug 2 Fraser Valley Niagara 1:00 PM CBC online
Mon, Aug 3 Guelph Edmonton 4:00 PM CBC online
Tue, Aug 4 Hamilton Saskatchewan 2:00 PM CBC online
Tue, Aug 4 Niagara Ottawa 4:30 PM CBC online
Wed, Aug 5 Fraser Valley Guelph 2:00 PM CBC online
Wed, Aug 5 Saskatchewan Ottawa 4:30 PM CBC online
Thu, Aug 6 6th Seed 3rd Seed 2:00 PM CBC online
Thu, Aug 6 5th Seed 4th Seed 4:30 PM CBC online
Sat, Aug 8 QF Higher Seed 2nd Seed 10:30 AM CBC TV
Sat, Aug 8 QF Lower Seed 1st Seed 12:50 PM CBC TV
Sun, Aug 9 SF Lower Seed SF Higher Seed 9:00 AM CBC TV

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