Basketball

Will Lightning surge in 2015-16?

The London Lightning (and their fans at Budweiser Gardens) are hoping the championship trophy returns to the Forest City when all is said and done in 2015-16.

Although the London Lightning season starts later than usual this year, the players are more prepared than ever. A grueling training camp led by new head coach Kyle Julius has pitted player against player, and even made Julius’ job a difficult one to make the final roster.

Surely, some new names will replace old ones. Some veterans will keep their spots over inexperienced rookies. What’s certain, though, is that Julius will choose the players he believes give the Lightning the best chance to capture a third title.

It wasn’t long ago that the London Lightning were kings of the National Basketball League of Canada (NBL). A championship in its inaugural season in 2011-2012 was followed up by a promise from Coach Micheal Ray Richardson that they would repeat. Sure enough, the Lightning hoisted a second trophy at the end of the final buzzer of the 2012-2013 campaign.

Recent years, though, have been unkind to the team. A conference finals loss at the hands of their rivals, the Windsor Express, and an early exit from the playoffs last season have left a sour taste. In fact, the Express have mirrored the Lightning by winning back-to-back championships, the celebration happening a few hours down the 401.

It’s the most anticipated season of the NBL since it began. Commissioner Dave Magley is now in charge, steering the league in the right direction for the future. The league has also welcomed a new team to Ontario, the Niagara River Lions. Only the Express and the Lightning have won championships so far; will a new winner be crowned this year?

Lightning fans and players alike certainly hope not. They’re looking to turn the tables on their Ontario adversaries to bring the cup back to the Forest City.

The fifth anniversary of the NBL promises to be a whirlwind of highlight reel action.

It’s showtime.

www.lightningbasketball.ca

Story submitted by the London Lightning