The Island Storm is going back to the National Basketball League of Canada final.
© Guardian photo by Brian McInnis
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The Storm lost last year’s championship to the London Lightning.
“You go one time to the final it is like, ‘OK you had a great season.’ You go back there, it’s starting to say something about your franchise,” coach Joe Salerno said on Sunday.
The Storm has to wait to Tuesday to find out who its opponent will be. The Windsor Express and Lightning are tied 3-3 with Game 7 set for 8 p.m. ADT on Tuesday in Windsor, Ont.
“It feels good to be in the finals, but we know our job is not done yet,” said Storm point guard Adrian Moss. “Our season is still a failure if we don’t win a championship.”
The Storm punched its ticket to the final with a 110-105 victory Saturday over the Halifax Rainmen at the Halifax Metro Centre.
The Rainmen held quarter leads of 27-25, 52-49 and 82-80, but were outscored 30-23 in the final quarter.
“It was really kind of a gut check for us,” Salerno said.
“With what was at stake, for us to hang in there . . . to get that win there at the Metro Centre was huge and it showed a lot of heart from our guys,” he added. “It was character win.”
Nick Okorie led the way with 31 points, including 6-for-8 from downtown. Steve Tchiengang scored 18, Moss and Antonio Ballard each had 17 and Jeremy Williams added 14.
Moss added 10 assists while Williams led the rebounders with eight boards.
Williams and Okorie were key for the Storm, particularly early in the game. Moss went on a run in the third with his team trailing by eight.
On the road in Game 6, “You’re lucky to be hanging around,” Moss said. “In the fourth quarter we just made plays.”
Jason Williams led Halifax with 32 points while Cliff Clinkscales added 17 points and 11 assists.
Salerno said the Rainmen pushed them hard during the physical series.
While a schedule for the final will have to wait for Tuesday’s outcome, the Storm knows the first two games will be played in Ontario, based on regular season records. The Storm will host games 3 to 5 of the best-of-seven series with games 6 and 7, if needed, in Ontario.
The series is expected to start later this week, meaning the Storm could have about a week of rest before the final begins.
The Storm is hoping to have point guard Al Stewart back for the series after spraining his ankle in Game 1 of the semifinal. He has been cleared to begin light practices.