Bandits forward Tyrrel Tate drives to the hoop against the Guelph Nighthawks in CEBL action on Thursday. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)

Fraser Valley Bandits fall in inaugural game

Guelph Nighthawks down Bandits 106-103 in front of packed house at Abbotsford Centre

The game featured dancers, drummers, dunks, (some) defence and a handful of other “d” – words, but the Fraser Valley Bandits debut didn’t include that ‘w’ word – win.

The Canadian Elite Basketball League squad welcomed the Guelph Nighthawks to the Abbotsford Centre on Thursday night, and an estimated crowd of over 3,000 were vocal, but the team fell 106-103 in the game’s dying moments.

Bandits guard Anton Gill tossed an airball from beyond the arc with just 3.4 seconds remaining, and that sealed the deal for the locals.

Things were tight early on, with the Bandits up 19-18 after one. Guelph caught fire offensively in the second quarter, and entered half-time up 53-50.

The Bandits began clicking in the third quarter, leading 77-75 after three, and the club was up as much as eight points late in the game but the Nighthawks poured it on and ramped up the defensive intensity.

Bandits head coach Peter Guarasci said it was a solid debut for his club, but more time together – both on and off the court is needed.

“In terms of compete level for our guys and attempting to play together I think it wasn’t too bad,” he said, following the loss. “But I thought we got away from things we’ve done in practice offensively. It’s a very new group, and the ball didn’t move around as much as we’d like it to. It became a bit of one man trying to find solutions at some points. We just need more practice time with this group.”

Guarasci said he liked the way his team came out of the second half, and wants to try to capture more of that play.

“I thought we had a good stretch in the third where we competed really hard and defended,” he said. “That gave us some energy and we shared the ball a bit more on offence. But then it became disjointed – it’s nothing to do with the effort it’s just a matter of getting more practice.”

He added he was impressed with the play of forwards Drew Urquhart and Troy Gottselig, as well as Gill.

“Troy gave us some great minutes and Anton Gill for his first pro game was very aggressive and had some good moments,” he said.

Guarasci said there is still work to be done crafting the identity of the team.

“We need to work on ball screen coverage and we weren’t active enough on the ball,” he said. “Team defence and being on the same page offensively are also what we need to work on, but that’s just reps.”

From an operations standpoints, there were a few minor hiccups, but Bandits marketing and communications manager Andrew Savory said he was pleased with opening day.

“The fan engagement was great and preparation was a huge thing for us and we want to continue to do that,” he said. “What we want to do is make sure people have a better experience next time. We can’t show the same event twice, and we want fans to feel like it’s a new entertainment experience each game.”

He pointed out the crowd was loud on day one.

“We’re really happy with our numbers tonight and I think we, along with Saskatchewan [who also hosted a game tonight], have set a strong precedent for the league,” he added.

Urquhart said the atmosphere was electric.

“The vibe here was rocking,” Urquhart said, noting he previously played in Estonia. “We really appreciate everyone coming out to the game and supporting us. The facility is fantastic and when the crowd got into it more at the end of the game, we could see the potential this city and the league has.”

Guarasci agreed, and also tipped his hat to Bandits staffers for putting it all together.

“It was fantastic atmosphere tonight,” he said. “If you knew how hard our staff works behind the scene to put this together, with very few hours of sleep, they poured themselves into it to make this happen. They have to be commended.”

Game statistics were not made available at the time of this story.

The Bandits now travel to Guelph for a re-match on May 18. The next home game for the team is on May 22, when the Hamilton Honey Badgers come to town.

For more on the team, visit thebandits.ca.

Just Posted

Serious police incident unfolding at Sts’ailes

Small reserve near Agassiz surrounded by police vehicles, helicopter, ERT

Report of dead body in Manning Park actually headless sex doll

This discovery, made at Manning Park on July 10, led police to uncovering two other sex mannequins

They’re coming!

Communities in Bloom judges return to see if Hope has what it takes for another 5 Blossom year

Chilliwack lagging real estate sales mirrors provincial trend

Forecast for 2019 is a drop from 2018 but a bounce back predicted for 2020

Hope Arts Gallery brings in new show with new member

“All God’s Creations” by Eva Heller will show during August

VIDEO: Wet weather kicks off Lower Mainland toad migration

Thousands of small western toads were making the trek from pond to woods

Olympic softball qualifier gets $150K boost from provincial government

2019 Americas Qualifier to be held in Surrey from Aug. 25-Sept. 1

Gas price inquiry questions Trans Mountain capacity, company denies collusion

The first of up to four days of oral hearings in the inquiry continue in Vancouver

‘Benzos’ and fentanyl a deadly cocktail causing a growing concern on B.C. streets

Overdoses caused by benzodiazepines can’t be reversed with opioid-overdose antidote naloxone

RCMP release sketch of suspect in SFU assault, appeal to witnesses who helped woman

The RCMP want to talk to two women who helped the victim after she got to the parking lot

Will you be celebrating national hotdog day with any of these crazy flavours?

The popularity of hotdogs spans generations, cultures

Former home of accused Penticton shooter vandalized

Ex-wife of man who is accused of murdering four people had her house vandalized

Survivor of near-drowning in B.C. lake viewing life through new eyes

“If I died that day, the baby wouldn’t know his dad,” said 31-year-old Mariano Santander-Melo.

‘Beyond the call’: Teen in police custody gets birthday surprise by B.C. Mountie

Unusual celebration started when Staff Sgt. Paul Vadik went to visit the teen in his Coquitlam cell

Most Read