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By Dave Langford
It was billed as a preview of the National Basketball League of Canada final.
Mind you, several things have to happen first, but any repetition of the show the London Lightning and The Island Storm put on Saturday would be well received.
That is if the crowd of 7,091 fans at Budweiser Gardens can be any barometer as they enjoyed every minute of the Lightning’s dynamic 111-101 victory over the Storm.
With their third straight win, the Lightning clinched third in the Central Conference. The Storm, who play out of Charlottetown, P.E.I., is first in the Atlantic Conference. If the teams meet in the league final, it would be a repeat of last year’s championship series.
Adding to the drama is the fact three former Lightning, including former London fan favourite Adrian Moss, now are members of the Storm. The other two are Jeremy Williams and Antwi Atuahene.
Right from the opening buzzer, the game was tight.
In first half alone which ended 45-43 Lightning, neither team led by more five, the lead changed hands nine times and the score was tied eight times. By the end of the third, the lead had changed 16 times.
In the end, Garrett Williamson had 28 points to lead London and Elvin Mims had had 18 points and 11 rebounds. Antonio Ballard topped the Storm with 22 points. The three former Lightning combined for 23 points.
Moss said he is enjoying his first season with the Storm.
“But it’s just good to be back in the city, back in the gym where I’m comfortable with,” Moss said. “I played a lot of games here. Budweiser is a great atmosphere. It’s exciting to be here.”
He said he has no regrets about the move.
“P.E.I. and London are a lot alike. Sort of small town, homey feel, where everybody embraces you. It’s a big deal, you’re something,” Moss said. “I think around the league, not everywhere is like that. That was one of my decisions in going to P.E.I. London gets a little bit bigger crowds but the love and the embracing, it's very, very similar.”
The Lightning complete their regular season Friday in Brampton against the A’s. The same two teams will meet in the best-of-five first round of playoffs early the following week, beginning in Brampton.
The Storm continues its Ontario road trip with a game Monday in Brampton.