An opening-night victory on their home court and a near-win in Windsor one night later: that’s the way the 2019-20 season has begun for the London Lightning.
London shot 48.2 per cent from the field in a 102-93 victory over the K-W Titans on Friday at Budweiser Gardens as Omar Strong, Xavier Moon and A.J. Gaines led the way offensively for London.
Gaines played for the Lightning last year and recorded a double-double against K-W with 17 points and 11 rebounds.
Strong had 19 points. He arrived in London with a veteran NBL of Canada resume, having played in Mississauga, Windsor and Niagara.
Moon chipped in with 17 points against the Titans and is expected to be one of London’s most effective players this year, having come very close to cracking the Raptors 905 roster in the NBA G League before joining the Lightning.
On Saturday, London came within seconds of beating the Express in Windsor. The Lightning led by a single point with two seconds left on the clock. Windsor came out of a timeout and inbounded the ball to Shaquille Keith, who made a shot to give the Express an 85-84 advantage.
A last-ditch shot by London’s Garrett Williamson missed and Windsor held on for its first win of the year.
Lightning veteran Mo Bolden had 19 points for London in the loss. Moon added 15 and also pulled down seven rebounds and added seven assists.
The NBL of Canada enters the year with eight teams split between Ontario and Atlantic Canada. The departure of Saint John and Cape Breton has allowed the St. John’s Edge to shift east after spending their first two years in the league playing out of the Central Division.
London will compete with Windsor, K-W and the Sudbury Five for the Central crown. The Lightning will be in Sudbury on Monday for their third game in four days.
The Lightning will return home to Budweiser Gardens on January 2, 2020 for a rematch with Windsor in a game that will tip off at 7 p.m.