TORONTO, ON – It has been anything but easy for the Saskatchewan Rattlers this year. After winning on the inaugural season of the CEBL, they find themselves winless through eight games in 2021.
However, even with a dark season looming over the Rattlers, some positives are coming from the team. Fans can enter back into the building after almost two years without them, and some of the players are starting to build into reliable players for the team when they decide to rebuild.
One of those players is University of Calgary alumni and Montreal native Mambi Diawara.
Diawara started his CEBL career in 2020 with the Edmonton Stingers, playing the Summer Series. After winning the second-ever championship, he signed with the Rattlers for the 2021 season. Already there has been a vast improvement with his game despite the team’s lack of success.
In 2020 he averaged 6.1 points per game in eight games. In eight games this season, he is producing 10.9 points and is scoring the fourth-highest number of points on the team. This past game against the Guelph Nighthawks provided a look at how he has been developing as a team leader.
At first, much like his team, Diawara didn’t provide much offensive or defensive strength to the team. He had the occasional basket, but the Nighthawks took possession of the first three quarters, with Diawara being one of the victims. However, in the fourth quarter, the Rattlers got their footing in the game.
Despite being down 25 points, the team rallied to get 31 points in the fourth quarter, more than the 26 points they scored in the second and third quarters combined. Finally, however, the deficit was too significant, and the Nighthawks were able to close the game 90-74.
Diawara led the team in points at 17 and successful free throws with eight. More than 10 of the points came in the last quarter alone.
Despite playing three years at the University of Calgary, Diawara had started his college career in Texas, where he played at Lamar State College in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA). During his time with the Dinos, he averaged 17.4 points per game, with his second season averaging 22 points per game.
In 2018 Diawara scored the game-winning basket against the X Rams to win the national championship, which Carleton has held onto every year since 2010. He had his best game in U SPORTS in the same year with 38 points against UNBC on Oct. 27. In 2019 Diawara won the Canada West Player of the Year award and found themselves in the national tournament again but was ousted in the first round by Carleton.
Diawara has travelled around the world playing basketball since graduating from the University of Calgary. His stops include Romania, Argentina and Finland. His last stint in Finland landed him with the Helsinki Seagulls in Finland’s top basketball league Korisliiga. However, he was only able to play eight games in the 22-game season. His team finished first with 20 wins and two losses but lost in the semifinals.
Despite the losses from the Rattlers this season, Diawara has shown to provide this team with a strong guard. There is still time in this season for the Rattlers to turn around the season. However, with eight losses, it may be too difficult.
Cover Photo: Calgary Dinos Sports Info.