A CANADIAN CHAMPIONSHIP
On 18 August 2019, history was made in Canada basketball. Stars were born, young men were knighted and champions were cemented. The game of basketball is constantly evolving with new players, incredible skills and dazzling styles. We have seen superstar players coming together to form super teams. On the 31st of July 2007, the Boston Celtics, sporting the iconic green jerseys, traded for Kevin Garnett to solidify the “Big 3” along with Paul Pierce and Ray Allen and reboot the super team era of the NBA. This became an influential strategy that more teams began to adopt.
-- The Breakdown --
In July 2019, 6.6 G Shaquille Keith (Brampton, ON) was traded from the Hamilton Honey Badgers to start for the Saskatchewan Rattlers, joining captain, 6.2 G Alex Campbell (Brampton, ON) and 6.10 F Marlon Johnson, constructing the first BIG 3, in the CEBL , and in FIBA Canadian professional basketball competition. At that time the Saskatchewan Rattlers fell below middle-of-the-pack and lost the league’s leading scoring guard and forward. The instant the trio of Shaquille Keith, Alex Campbell and Marlon Johnson stepped on the court, the chemistry and possibility of championship were evident. The team turned things around and blazed through the league going 9-1 (for the remainder of the CEBL season) and ultimately winning the inaugural CEBL and first FIBA Canadian professional basketball championship.
Of course, with every teams success, lies the special and mutual respect, leadership and guidance between players and coaches. Forming this trio was possible due to the vision and action of general manager and coach Greg Jockims, a native resident of Saskatoon. Greg Jockims is the only head coach in Canada to have won championships on the college level (Saskatoon University) and professional level. His ability to recruit, transform and understand the players as people was incomparable and possibly even the key ingredient to the 2019 CEBL championship.
A big piece of the team was, Shaquille Keith, who was traded mid-season and later beat his former team the Hamilton Honey Badgers, in the championship finals. There are a handful of players in Canada who truly possess the ability to transform a team completely, and instantly, into a title contender. Shaquille Keith was able to lead the rat-pack to a 9-1 record and win a championship for the Saskatchewan Rattlers averaging: 16ppg, 6rpg, 4apg, and 2spg after joining the team!
The captain, Alex Campbell, another great Canadian talent, won the CEBL 2019 Final MVP, adding 21 points and 11 rebounds in the final game, furthermore, creating a name for himself in Canada. Also flying under the radar, was big man Marlon Johnson. The 6.10 athletic forward stepped-up after the pivotal trade and most notably, took over the 4th quarter in the semi-finals game against the top team, the Edmonton Stingers. Al though the original BIG 3 are on different teams right now, the championship performance in the full 20-game CEBL season, will go down as one of the most dominant outcomes in FIBA Canadian professional basketball competition.