The Calgary Surge are heading to the Canadian Elite Basketball finals in Vancouver, after a hometown victory in the final Battle of Alberta over the Edmonton Stingers.
The Surge, taking on the Stingers for a fifth and final time in the CEBL’s Western Conference semi-finals, finished with a commanding 84-68 win.
The team lead their rivals for all but seven and a half minutes in the first quarter.
“First we got back on defence. We didn’t give him a very much transition. That’s the key to it, but we just were harping on that a whole time period, no matter what happens,” said Surge head coach, Nelson Terroba.
Stefan Smith, who took the Surge to their final victory with a pair of free throws, said that they had become much more disciplined team a fifth time around against Edmonton.
“The team has changed a lot. I think we’ve become a lot more disciplined offensively and defensively. Obviously, there’s a roster change a little bit as well, but I think moving forward, it’s just about understanding what we need to do as a team,” he said.
“The next game is a win or go home situation, but we just have to approach it like a another game.”
That approach was also echoed by Coach Terroba, who said that he wasn’t paying any attention to who the Surge might be facing from the Eastern Conference in a potential CEBL Championship final.
“I have no idea, because I haven’t been watching them for a long time. So I have no knowledge of the East.”
“I’m not trying to give you a coach speak either. There’s so much to do with every one game that we have.”
Not fretting loss of Simi Shittu to French Pro-A League
Power forward Simi Shittu, who lead the CEBL’s regular season in rebounds with an average of 10.6 per game, signed with the French professional basketball club Limoges CSP on July 31.
Coach Terroba said that he was happy for Shittu, saying that he served as a cornerstone of the Surge program over the inaugural season.
“This league is built to create opportunities like Simi’s getting right now, with a wonderful chance to improve his career and improve his future and his family’s future. So we’re happy for Simi.”
He said that the Surge going into Vancouver though was still a championship ready team, and that the roster was never based around just one player.
“Simi would say the same thing if he was here, you know? We’re built in, designed, to handle these types of situations. We couldn’t be here without Simi, and I’m proud and happy for the guys that they know they can find a way to win, dependent upon whoever is missing or whatever.”
Smith said that he thinks they have the championship game already set, and now it’s just taking care of the details.
“It’s just a matter of understanding what we’re going there to do. You know, are we getting enough sleep or you know, taking care of our body? Are we eating right? Doing all the small things is going to be the difference maker.”
Thanks to the fans for an amazing first season
Jason Ribeiro, President of the Surge, thanked the fans for coming to the final home game of the team’s inaugural season.
“We don’t plan to compete for a championship with this level. We’ve never thought that a first year team should have a first year realm of success,” he said.
“Success is success. Togetherness is togetherness, and community is community. You saw three out there tonight, and that’s the reason why we’re going to be heading to Vancouver for a championship weekend.”
He praised the Edmonton Stingers, saying that they have been nothing but a top tier organization and a great club to battle against.
“Not to poke any holes in the Battle of Alberta mythos, you know, but they’re class acts.”
“The other owner came over to me on court side and said go win the whole thing, and I think that’s what you want to hear.”
Still, said Ribeiro, the outcome of the final home game for the Surge of 2023 wasn’t a sure thing—Ribero traded his now trademark white shirt and tie for an all black suit for the game.
“I didn’t know if it was gonna be Edmonton’s wake or ours. So you know, it was one of the other, but I just want to say hats off to the Edmonton Stingers.”
Heading into Vancouver this week, he said that many of the fans that have been supporting the team would be travelling with them, or trying to find a way to travel with them.
“Our office has been overwhelmed by call saying how do we get to Vancouver? What does this look like? You think about the fan base like this: we didn’t know if we were playing on [August 4 or 6]. They didn’t care. They rewrote plans, they canceled trips. It’s a long weekend, and it’s still rowdy, rowdy, rowdy energy.”
“I know there’s going to be a heck of a lot of calls to our office on Monday, holiday or not, and we look forward to seeing a good Surge contingency.”
The CEBL Western Conference final is taking place on August 11 at the Langley Events Centre. The winner of that game will go on to face the Eastern Conference champion on August 13.