The Storm is one win, or a Halifax Rainmen loss, from clinching the Atlantic Division of the National Basketball League of Canada, the No. 2 seed in the upcoming playoffs and home-court advantage in the semifinals.
The Storm’s first opportunity to achieve this goal is on Friday, when the Oshawa Power visit for a 7 p.m. start. The Storm takes a 22-14 (won-lost) record into the game while the Power checks in at 18-18.
“That is the goal, and we are going to try and get it done Friday,” said Storm head coach Joe Salerno.
However, it won’t be easy against the Power, who have won two of the three head-to-head meetings against the Storm this season.
“Oshawa is very tough, and they play us tough,” said Salerno. “They are actually the only team we have a losing record in this league to. We are going to try and even up that series. It will be a tough game as it always is with them.”
In the last meeting between the teams, the Storm gutted out a hard-fought 118-109 meeting in Oshawa on Feb. 28.
“It was a dogfight,” reflected Salerno. “Oshawa just keeps coming at you.
“They are an extremely aggressive and competitive team, and they are trying to stay out of that 4-5 (playoff) matchup as well.
“Everybody, including us, has stuff that they are playing for now. Our guys know that as well, and we’ll be ready for it.”
The Rainmen come to town for a Sunday matinee on ‘Al Stewart Day.’ Game time is 2 p.m.
The game will mark the popular point guard’s final game with the Storm as he is returning to his hometown of Chicago to accept a full-time teaching position.
“Oshawa is very tough, and they play us tough. They are actually the only team we have a losing record in this league to. We are going to try and even up that series. It will be a tough game as it always is with them.” - Storm head coach Joe Salerno
The Rainmen are 18-19 and are in a five-team battle for three post-season positions.
“Halifax has turned over their roster,” commented Salerno. “I think they have a lot of the right guys in place now.
“It will be interesting because they have been playing small lately. We’ll look to try and take advantage with some of our size with (Antoine) Tisby. Both games are going to be tough. They are both winnable, but we are going to have to play well in both to get the wins.”
The Storm is coming off a 140-95 rout of the Saint John Mill Rats on Tuesday night. All 11 players dressed for the Storm scored in that game.
“It’s a good feeling to play well and shoot the ball well,” said Salerno. “To have everybody contribute, is going to help build our confidence going into the last stretch.”
After Sunday’s game, the Storm will conclude the regular season with home games against the London Lightning on Thursday, March 14, and the Halifax Rainmen on Saturday, March 16.
“It’s nice to be home and nice to know we are staying here for the last four games of the season,” said Salerno after Tuesday’s win against Saint John. That game marked the Storm’s first home game since Feb. 14 and only their second since Jan. 25.