The Premier Basketball League was started in 2007 by some associated with the ABA. Now going into its second year of operation there are 13 teams made up of Canadian, Northern U.S. and Eastern U.S. teams. There are three divisions and each team will play 20 regular season games. It is a short season so every game is important. The Montreal Sasquat'ch, in their first year of operation led by owner/CEO Real Bourassa, are in the Atlantic Division along with the Halifax Rainmen, Vermont Frost Heaves, Manchester Millrats, and Quebec Kebs.
Coming off a win over the Manchester Millrats 100-97 in their inaugural match the Montreal Sasquat'ch of the Premier Basketball League were looking to turning this into a winning opening weekend. Their second opponents were the Halifax Rainmen, who had also won their first game against the Quebec Kebs. Even this early in the season this game was for first place in the Atlantic Division.
The game was played in front of a small crowd (will get bigger with some word of mouth and advertising) at the intimate Centre Pierre Charbonneau. It is a great place to watch a basketball game due to its small size. All seats give you a great view of the court and the courtside ones allow you a vantage point rarely available at a professional sports game. Plus the ticket prices are very affordable.
The Sasquat'ch started off the game with guard Randy "White Chocolate" Gill, forward Steve Pellan, guard Bobby Miller, forward John Daryl Ruffus, and centre Xavier Morton on the court. Montreal began strong taking an early 16-7 lead with a high tempo style. Several players and their play caught my eye. Local boy and crowd favourite, veteran point guard Bobby Miller, ably directing his team, distributed the ball and giving everyone a chance to get into the game early. Centre Xavier Morton, a big man in more than one way (6'9" and 320 lbs.), was strong in the paint at both ends. Halifax had a hard time controlling him on the offensive boards and defensively he riled the crowd up with one gigantic stuff. The Sasquat'ch strong play continued for the whole first quarter and they led at the end of it 26-20.
Despite his team's strong early play coach Alejandro Hasbani prowled the sidelines like a caged animal. He paced back and forth continuously, urging on his team and worked up such a lather that his jacket came off a mere three minutes into the game.
Montreal's Kevin Dulude came on during the second quarter and set himself up as Mr. Hustle. He showed himself to be a player who never gives up and many of his rebounds were as a result of this hustle. Montreal got many second chance points as a result of his hard work. On the down side, Lantrice Green came on to spell Miller as point guard and the offence seem to stall under his direction.
Halifax was having trouble finding their shooting stroke early on relying on Glen Dandridge and Brian Silverhorn for the bulk of their scoring. This changed in the second quarter with former Dawson Blues product Cordell Jeanty starting to scored points in bunches.
Both teams began to score in spurts with neither dominating for long stretches. One team would pull ahead and then the other would catch up. A turnover at the end of the second quarter cost Montreal the lead going into the halftime break with Halifax taking the slimmest of leads of 51-50.
At the beginning of the third quarter the Halifax shooting caught fire and Montreal's cooled off. Halifax took their biggest lead of the game going 12 points up on Montreal (80-68). Instead of taking their time and looking for the best shots, Montreal seemed to be forcing things at this point and took several unwise shots which compounded their problems.
Montreal's cold shooting streak continued at the beginning of the fourth quarter. Now was the time to see what this team was made up of characterwise. High profile guard Randy "White Chocolate" Gill took over as point guard and showed his great ball handling skills and amazing shooting to bring the Montreal team back to within 1 point with a three point shot a couple of minutes from the end of the fourth quarter.
With only 56 seconds left there was plenty of tension in the building as the score was 115-111 Halifax. Things looked dire with forward Dulude missing 2 easy layups that would have tied the score for Montreal. Was there enough time for Montreal to pull this off? The answer was "yes" and it was game high scorer (with 38 points) Gill who tied the game with a sweet jump shot. We were going to overtime, folks!
Those in attendance were certainly going to get their money's worth as overtime was to be 5 minutes and if still tied it would be sudden death. Gill continued showing his ball handling skills and put the team on his shoulders during the overtime frame. Despite his best efforts (and after a 10 minute delay due to some debate with the referees over the rules) his last second shot clanged off the orange metal and the Montreal team came up on the short side of a 127-125 game.
For a first experience at a Montreal Sasquat'ch game I have to say this was very positive. The game had everything – plenty of clutch three-point shooting, hard fouls, dunks, and even overtime. The Montreal players play a high tempo, exciting brand of basketball and deserve to be supported by the Montreal population.
Make sure you check out the Saquat'ch's next home game vs. the Manchester Millrats on January 23, 2009. Tickets can be purchased at www.monbillet.com
-Scoring by Quarter: 1st 2nd 3rd 4th OT1 Total
MON 26 24 28 37 10 125
HAL 20 31 34 30 12 127
Montreal: #03 Randy Gill 38
#32 Jamaal Wise 29
#34 John Ruffus 25
#23 Louis-Patrick Levros 15
#13 Kevin Dullude 8
#33 Xavier Morton 8
#11 Steve Pellan 2
#01 Tristan Martin 0
#06 Bobby Miller 0
#15 Lantrice Green 0
#24 Quilninious Randall 0
Halifax: #17 Cordell Jeanty 29
#07 Glen Dandridge 21
#01 Jimmy Twyman 20
#03 SirValient Brown 19
#06 Brian Silverhorn 18
#42 Rodney Mayes 11
#02 Kevin Hammack 5
#34 David Bailey 4
#20 Eric Crookshank 0