Under the direction of new head coach Rob Spon, Saturday’s pre-game shoot around was different for the Halifax Rainmen.
“We didn’t just come in here and gradually loosen up; it was like a full out practice, lots of running, lots of drills,” said Rainmen guard Joey Haywood.
The Saint Mary’s University product wouldn’t say that resulted in his squad’s two straight home victories over the weekend: a 103-85 blowout over the Windsor Express later that evening, or Sunday’s 117-110 win over Summerside Storm.
But he did say his teammates immediately bought into Spon’s team-first, all-out philosophy.
“If you make a mistake on the offence, which is going to happen, you get back on the other end of the floor and you make up for it,” said Haywood.
There was a lot to be optimistic about in Sunday’s victory. Most importantly the Rainmen now boast a .500 record (4-4). Collectively, they also shot a terrific 52 per cent from the field. Eight players ended up in double digits in scoring, with Brandon Robinson leading the way with 21 points.
Antonio Ballard collected a game-high 35 points in a losing effort for Summerside.
After 11 lead changes in the first half, the Rainmen took a 61-47 into the third quarter. The home squad survived a brief scare after the visitors went on a 13-3 run to start the third. But that’s as close as they would come.
Halifax led by as much as 14 in the fourth quarter on the face of an relentless, balanced attack, much to the delight of the 1,796 fans in attendance.
Antoine Tisby had a break out game with 17 points to go with seven rebounds and two blocks.
“It felt good,” said Tisby. “But coach made some small lineup changes that are making big differences. We’re pulling together and it shows.”
Storm cry foul after Rainmen back out of deal
The rivalry between the Storm and Rainmen may have intensified Sunday.
According to a media release by the Storm, the two National Basketball League of Canada teams had a verbal agreement for a trade that would have featured an “impact player” coming to Summerside in exchange for a second-round pick in next year’s draft and cash considerations.
The release says Storm ownership agreed to the deal, which would allow the Rainmen player to play for Halifax in Sunday’s head-to-head meeting.
The paperwork for the deal was to be submitted to the league office on Sunday morning, but the Rainmen backed out.
To make room for the player coming to Summerside, the Storm released centre Ayodokun Akingbade Sunday morning.
“We negotiated in good faith, made a deal and released a valuable player to make room for the player we were acquiring,” said Storm co-owner Duncan Shaw. “We took the Rainmen ownership at their word, and were let down.”
Rainmen owner Andre Livingston confirmed the teams had a verbal agreement. He said the Rainmen thought they had another player coming in, but that deal fell through at the 11thhour. When that happened, Livingston said he wouldn’t make his team “vulnerable” by trading a player and not having a replacement.
“Until a deal is signed, sent to the league and approved, it’s a verbal agreement,” Levingston said. “Like I explained to them, I understand their disappointment of it, but it happens at every level of professional sports.” – Summerside Journal Pioneer