Vancouver Bandits could not keep up with the Saskatchewan Rattlers on Wednesday night and fell 109-85 in the Rattlers’ home opener.
The Rattlers led 25-22 after one quarter of play, but connected on 22 three-pointers to outpace the Bandits and take a commanding lead. Saskatchewan attempted 51 threes and connected on a scorching 43.1 per cent of their long-range strikes in the game.
Five Saskatchewan players buried at least a trio of threes, all of whom reached double figures.
New acquisition Justin Wright-Foreman tallied 23 points, four rebounds, eight assists and four steals on 7-of-11 shooting from the field and 4-of-5 from three in his Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) debut.
The former Utah Jazz draft pick did all that in just 21 minutes of action after leaving the game in the third quarter with an injury before eventually returning to the bench later in the game.
Rattlers’ forward Jermel Kennedy also contributed 22 points in the win and hit a team-high six threes.
“Guys gave me the ball where I needed it and I was just ready to shoot,” Kennedy said. “Being ready was probably the most important thing today.”
Bandits’ big man Nick Ward was a bright spot in the loss and provided a powerful presence in the paint. He netted 22 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the field and 10-of-15 from the free-throw line to go along with 13 rebounds.
Giorgi Bezhanishvili chipped in 15 points and 10 rebounds and Malcolm Duvivier also secured a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds.
After scoring 30 points in the season opener, D.J. Steward struggled from the field on Wednesday and scored just 12 points on 6-of-20 shooting from the floor.
Former Rattler and 2019 CEBL Finals MVP Alex Campbell also reached double figures for the Bandits with 13 points.
Three-point shooting and turnovers were the biggest difference statistically in the contest. The Bandits shot just 25 per cent from three-point distance and committed 17 turnovers in the loss.
“I think we didn’t do anything well in this game,” Bandits’ assistant coach Junior Cadougan said.
“We need to just throw this game away and focus on the things that we need to do to get better and get ready for that home stretch,” he added.
The Bandits showed some late fight and outscored the Rattlers 16-10 in target time. However, Malik Benlevi and Michael Nuga each scored twice to allow Saskatchewan to hit their target.
The Rattlers start the season 1-0 while Vancouver drops to 0-2.
Following Wednesday’s game, Vancouver return home, to the Langley Events Centre, for their home opener on Saturday night against the Calgary Surge at 7 p.m.
A key highlight of Vancouver’s fifth CEBL campaign will be its hosting of Championship Weekend, which takes place between Friday to Sunday, Aug. 11 to 13.
An annual celebration of the highest level of Canadian professional basketball, Championship Weekend combines three games of playoff basketball as part of a multi-day festival experience designed to celebrate the intersection of arts, culture and sport.
As hosts of Championship Weekend, the Bandits receive an automatic semifinal berth.
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