The Montreal Toundra won both games of the opening weekend.
The Montreal Toundra made a spectacular debut on the city's professional sports scene last weekend, with two consecutive victories in less than 24 hours. Montrealers were treated to the highest level of professional basketball ever seen in our city, as local heroes from our city took on teams based in the United States for the first time.
The excitement started in front of a cheering crowd at Center Pierre Charbonneau as the Toundra hosted the Virginia Valley Vipers. The Toundra players have been training hard since the team's open tryouts at the end of January, and it showed, as Montreal led by 22 points (70-48) at the end of the first half. time.
The game, however, tightened throughout the second half, with the Valley Vipers leveling the odds until the final six minutes of the match, where only three points separated the teams. However, the Tundra prevailed, with a 121-177 final victory.
Point guard Jamal Mayali was the most valuable player for the Toundra in Game 1, with 25 points, 4 assists and 5 rebounds. Nervens Demosthenes, another playmaker, also stood out with 20 points on 8-of-10 shooting, 7 rebounds and 3 steals. Rudolphe "Rudy" Joly contributed 16 points and 8 rebounds, and Graddy Kaku scored 14 points.
Less than 24 hours apart, the Tundra returned to action on Sunday beating the Lehigh Valley Legends 101-94.
This time, NBA hopeful Kyliaan Rotardier stood out as the man of the match, with 24 points (9 shots on 12 attempts) and 7 rebounds.
Four other players scored more than 10 points in this second game. They are Narcisse Kalamba (15), Jamal Mayali (14), Nervens Demosthenes (12) and Graddy Kanku (12). Joly (9 PTS, 8 REB) and forward Levi Londole (9 PTS, 11 REB) each came close to double-double.
Team owner and manager Juan Mendez commented: "The guys showed resilience." The TBL format, like the NBA, features 12-minute quarters. Matches that normally last 40 minutes under FIBA rules (worldwide) are therefore longer. This means the team has to work harder over a longer period of time.
In both games, the longer duration of play had the effect of shrinking the teams' lead as they battled against the clock. However, the team was selected and trained to be strong and hold their own. Coach Igor Rwigema built this resistance in from the start, and now you can see the results on the pitch.
Montreal loves a winning team - they seem to have one with the Toundra.
The next game will take place this Friday, March 10, at Center Pierre-Charbonneau, when the Toundra will host the Albany Patroons.
You don't want to miss it.