CANADIAN ELITE BASKETBALL LEAGUE SET TO BECOME FIRST LEAGUE IN CANADA TO RETURN TO PLAY
TORONTO, Ont. (June 25, 2020) -- The Canadian Elite Basketball League announced Thursday that its seven teams will convene at the Meridian Centre in St. Catharines, Ontario starting July 15 to play the CEBL Summer Series, a round robin competition that will culminate in crowning the second-year league’s 2020 champion. The timing of the Summer Series, subject to the status of the province of Ontario’s phased in reopening, will make the CEBL the first professional league in Canada to return to play following the COVID-19 outbreak in March.
“The CEBL has been at the forefront of the return-to-play efforts by major sports leagues across Canada, and we’re ecstatic at the prospect of being able to return live professional sports to Canadians,” said Mike Morreale, Commissioner and CEO of the CEBL. “After exhausting all contingencies to get our teams back on the court this summer, a single-site competition, closed to fans but with all games available for free to viewers across the country and internationally, will enable us to again showcase the players who help make Canada the second-leading producer of pro basketball talent in the world.
“I would like to thank Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries Lisa MacLeod and her staff for championing the efforts of the return of sports,” Morreale added. “The Province of Ontario recognizes that sports play an important role in boosting the economy, restoring the vibrancy of our communities, and inspiring people of all ages to be active and healthy. Along with Minister MacLeod, Mayor Walter Sendzik of St. Catharines has shared the CEBL’s vision for the Summer Series and worked with us to facilitate a four-week event that will adhere to medical protocols designed to keep our players, coaches, staff, local public and tournament officials safe. This is a huge undertaking that could not happen without their support, as well as that of medical officers, and the staff of the Meridian Centre, and our training and accommodations partner.”
The teams from Ottawa, Hamilton, Guelph, Edmonton, Saskatchewan (Saskatoon), and Fraser Valley (Abbotsford) will join the hometown Niagara River Lions on July 15 for the opening of each team’s training camp. While the game schedule will be announced at a later date, the 26-game CEBL Summer Series tips off Saturday, July 25. Each club will play the other once, and the team with the worst record will be eliminated and the remaining six will be seeded into a bracket. The third and sixth seeds, and the fourth and fifth seeds, will face each other for the right to advance to the semifinals against the first and second-seeded teams. The CEBL Championship game is scheduled for Sunday, August 9.
As the premier media partner of the CEBL, CBC Sports will offer live streams of all games to audiences across Canada via the free CBC Gem streaming service, cbcsports.ca and the CBC Sports app for iOS and Android devices. CBC will also provide broadcast coverage of select games, with details to be revealed in the coming weeks. The CEBL and CBC announced a three-year partnership on November 26, 2019 that includes broadcast and streaming coverage each season.
All seven teams will be accommodated in St. Catharines, playing games at the Meridian Centre, and practicing at a nearby facility. They will be separated from the general public, and strict screening and COVID-19 protocols will be adhered to under the supervision of medical officials. Extensive health and safety measures will be maintained for the participants, including social distancing and other specialized practices designed to limit interactions amongst participants. The 2020 CEBL season has been on delay since mid-April with its originally scheduled tipoff date of May 7. Each club had been scheduled to play a 20-game schedule leading to a final four CEBL Championship Weekend in Edmonton, August 14-16.
A league created by Canadians for Canadians, the CEBL has the highest percentage of Canadian players of any professional league in the country, with 80% of its current rosters being Canadians. Players come from the NBA G-League, top international leagues, the Canadian National Team program, and top NCAA programs as well as from U SPORTS. The only First Division Professional League partner of Canada Basketball, the CEBL season typically runs from May through August. More information is available at www.cebl.ca