Moncton man closer to hoop dream

Moncton native Matthew Robertson will soon learn whether he'll get a shot at playing professional basketball, with the Moncton Miracles expected to make final cuts before the first regular season game on Oct. 29.

Matthew Robertson hopes to make final cut for Moncton Miracles

Moncton native Matthew Robertson will soon learn whether he'll get a shot at playing professional basketball.

The new National Basketball League of Canada will be making the final cuts to the Moncton Miracles team before the first regular season game on Saturday.

Robertson is one of 16 remaining players vying for the 12 positions on the team.

"Coach said yesterday, 'Nobody's guaranteed a spot.' And everybody's working hard," he said.

"Until he tells you don't show up anymore, I'm going to keep coming and bringing it."

Robertson said he's treating it like a job interview.

"It's not so much you're competing for a spot on a basketball team, but you're competing for a job.

"It's like any interview process you go through, there's 16 applicants and 12 spots and whoever works the hardest, shows the best stuff … that's who's going to get the job."

The possibility of the 23-year-old — who is 6'7" and 205 pounds — making the final cut seems promising.

Coach Norris Bell said the team must have at least two Canadians, under the rules of the new league.

As it stands, there are only three Canadians left on the roster — Robertson, who plays forward; Kevin Loiselle of Montreal, who also plays forward, and Isaac Kuon, of Mississauga, Ont., who plays guard.

Stand-out player

Robertson, who played for St. Thomas University in Fredericton until he graduated in 2010, was considered a stand-out player.

In 2010, Robertson was awarded the university's prestigious Tom McCann Award for commitment to the school.

Earlier in his university career, he won the basketball team's rookie of the year award, earned the team's most valuable player honours, was a Canadian Colleges Athletics Association All-Canadian in 2006-07 and an ACAA second team all-star in 2009.

He was also a ACAA second team all-star in 2010-11 when he played for Moncton's Crandall University.

Robertson was passed over in the 2011 NBL Canada draft and signed as a free agent for a tryout with Moncton.

He said he's been put through the paces during this week's training camp with scrimmages, conditioning and plenty of practice to get ready for the team's first exhibition game of the season Monday night.

"It's really difficult to adjust to the speed, the quickness and the physicality of the players," he said.

But he's looking forward to the game.

"It's going to be really cool to be in my hometown and have all that fan support, not only for me but for the guys as well."

The upstart league was formed during the summer after the Halifax Rainmen, Saint John Mill Rats and Quebec Kebs broke away from Premier Basketball League in April over concerns about the league's officiating and poor management.

The Miracles will open their two-game exhibition schedule against the Summerside Storm at 7 p.m. at the Moncton Coliseum, followed by a Thursday night game against the Saint John Mill Rats at Harbour Station.

The 36-game regular season begins Oct. 29 against the Quebec Kebs, with their home opener Nov. 20 against the Saint John Mill Rats. The regular season wraps up in March.