The London Lightning completed their “Drive for Five” on Wednesday night as they edged the K-W Titans 97-96 to win the 2022 National Basketball League of Canada championship.
With the Lightning ahead by two points, Jabari Craig of K-W drew a foul and went to the line with a chance to tie the score and send the teams to overtime for the second consecutive game. Craig made the first free-throw to make it 97-96, but missed the second and allowed London to hold on and sweep the best-of-five series three games to none.
Terry Thomas went from NBLC Sixth Man of the Year in the regular season to starter in the playoffs and led the way offensively for the London with 25 points. Thomas also pulled down eight rebounds and got the Lightning off to a fast start with the first seven points of the game.
London led 52-43 at halftime and increased their lead to 12 points going into the final quarter.
The Titans made a push by outscoring the Lightning 27-16 over the final 12 minutes and even led 93-92 but a Chris Jones layup with just over one minute remaining gave London the final cushion that they needed.
Jones ended the game with 16 points. Amir Williams had 18 for the Lightning
K-W’s Tyrell Tate had a game high 28 points. Jesse Jones of the Titans scored 27.
London dominated in the paint once again as they outscored K-W 50-38. London outscored the Titans in the pain in every game in the series.
London finished the 2022 regular season with a league-best record of 20-4.
The off-season will now determine what the National Basketball League of Canada will look like next year. The Atlantic Canada teams from Moncton, N.B., Halifax, N.S., St. John’s, Nfld., and Charlottetown, PEI., elected not to participate in 2022. The question “Will they be back?” has yet to be answered.
The NBLC partnered with The Basketball League out of the United States during its 2022 regular season to have each of the NBLC franchises play six inter-league games against TBL teams. Whether a partnership could continue there is still a question as well.
In the meantime the Lightning will bask in the black and yellow glow of their latest NBLC championship.
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