EDMONTON, AB – Championship Weekend for the 2021 CEBL Season has gotten underway and it all started with the annual CEBL Awards Gala that took place at the Edmonton Expo Centre. It was a night to recognize the best of the best in the CEBL and stars were in great numbers.
Lindell Wigginton of the Hamilton Honey Badgers had a standout season in the CEBL. He was in talks for the MVP award throughout the season as he continually dominated in every game, and hit more game winners than one can count. He was a massive piece for the Honey Badgers throughout the season and his presence was felt everywhere they went. With his ability to defend everywhere, pick off passes, work off the dribble and go strong to the rim, he made sure teams knew where he was at all times, and even that wasn’t enough to stop the guard from Nova Scotia. His dominant year earned him 2 awards at the Gala, Canadian Player of the Year, and Clutch Player of the Year, a testament to his play and the effort he always gave his team.
Another dominant player this season was Brandon Gilbeck. The 7-footer for the Fraser Valley Bandits was somebody who made scoring inside the paint a very difficult task for his opponents. His height combined with his athleticism made him one of the most dominant posts in the league along with the Stingers Marlon Johnson Jr. and the stats showed it. He led the league in blocks per game with 2.8 and finished 4th in the league with 7.7 rebounds per game, all while shooting 61%, the fifth best field goal percentage. He was a force to be reckoned with and as the Bandits look to make their run to a championship, the 2021 Defensive Player of the Year will look to continue his impressive run along with the deep roster the Bandits have.
Depth is important, and having great players in the middle of the rotation can take a lot of pressure off of the starting 5. Adika Peter-McNeilly of the Edmonton Stingers was that spark all season long. The Stingers have a lot of talent across their roster with players like Xavier Moon, Jordan Baker, Marlon Johnson Jr. and others, and Adika was a spark when any of those three weren’t getting going as fast as they wanted. He played 13 games for the Stingers, averaging 10 points and 2 assists, and his consistent contribution and energy he brought the Stingers earned him the 2021 Sixth Man of the Year award.
The Stingers were the best team in the league throughout the entire season. They finished with a 13-1 record and even though they had a few close games, they were almost always able to pull away in the fourth quarter and show that their chemistry and toughness when put in adversity was always strong enough to pull them through. They got better and better as the season went on and their head coach Jermaine Small looks to have put together a serious championship contender and a team looking to go back-to-back, bringing another CEBL Championship to Edmonton. The Stingers dominance continuous improvement, along with how Jermaine managed close games and always pulled his team through, earned him the 2021 Coach of the Year award and it is much deserved.
Two more awards were presented to the great talent that took the floor in the CEBL this year, one of which was the 2021 U SPORTS Player of the Year. U SPORTS showed out in the CEBL during the 2021 season and many current and former U SPORTS athletes had phenomenal seasons for their respective teams. Lloyd Pandi, a current Carleton Raven, made a massive impact on the Niagara River Lions playing alongside Phil and Tommy Scrubb and Guillaume Boucard. Pandi played all 14 games for the River Lions and his stellar defensive play and ability to facilitate the offence showed throughout the River Lions season in which they finished 2nd in the CEBL at 10-4. He is a phenomenal player for the River Lions and with their semi-final matchup incoming against the Fraser Valley Bandits, another great defensive team, he will need to continue his great defensive play and facilitate the ball just like he has been doing all season long.
Lastly, it wouldn’t be the CEBL Awards without Xavier Moon. The accolades Xavier has racked up over his 3 seasons has been astonishing and hard to keep up with and that list got bigger at this years’ Gala. The now 3-time Player of the Year and leader in points scored, has shown every day that he has skills very few have. He finished the regular season leading in points with 22.9, 3rd in assists with 4.8, 2nd in steals with 2.1, and 4th in 3-pointers made with 34 knocked down from distance throughout the Stingers 13-1 season. His impact goes far beyond stats and he is a player where you truly have to watch him in person to understand his all-around dominance. He will look to add a 2nd CEBL championship to his list of accomplishments alongside the Stingers as they play the Ottawa Blackjacks in the semi-finals and then hope to move on to the finals and holding up the trophy yet again.
The best of the best were given the spotlight at the 2021 CEBL Awards Gala, and it was a night of recognizing the phenomenal individuals that make up the Canadian Elite Basketball League. WIth Championship Weekend starting and the Semi-Finals kicking off on Friday August 20th, this night was a great reminder of some of the stars fans saw take the court and will see again as the CEBL goes on.