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London Lightning to play for 6th NBL championship

After a dominant regular season, the London Lightning will look to make it back-to-back championships starting Thursday at Budweiser Gardens.

The Lightning will take on the Windsor Express in the best-of-five series for the National Basketball League of Canada championship.

“We were six and one against them in the regular season, but that doesn’t mean anything come playoffs,” said Lightning head coach Doug Plumb.

London is the most decorated team in NBL history, having won six, more than all other teams combined. The road to the championship series for the Lightning was through a solid regular season that saw them finish on a seven-game win streak.

“It’s been a very up-and-down year in terms of injuries and having guys in and out of lineups … but at the end of the day we are still 24 and six and we’re back where we need to be,” says Plumb, who was recently named coach of the year for the second year in a row.

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Their semi-final playoff matchup was the Kitchener-Waterloo Titans, who pushed the Lightning to four games. In that fourth game, Mike Nuga and Jeremiah Mordi registered 25 points with eight rebounds apiece, leading the way to a 94-89 win.

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London will take on a Windsor team coming off a major upset, defeating the heavily favoured Sudbury Fire three games to two. In conference play this season, Sudbury had accumulated a 16-10 record compared to Windsor’s 11-17.

This will mark the fifth matchup between London and Windsor in NBL playoffs history, but the first time they have met in the finals. Head-to-head, London holds a 3-1 advantage in playoff series matchups and 62-36 in all-time games played since Windsor’s inaugural 2012-2013 season.

Plumb says the Lightning will have to be prepared for Windsor’s old-school style of play.

“The ball’s going to go inside, it’s going to be a very physical series,” said Plumb.

“It’s going to be about who can impose their will and stay out of foul trouble.”

Game one will tip off at 7 p.m. on Thursday at Budweiser Gardens, with game two on Saturday also at 7 p.m. The series then shifts to Windsor for game three next Tuesday and a game four next Thursday if necessary. Should a fifth game be required, it will be in London on May 26.

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