Saskatoon

League-champ Saskatchewan Rattlers to defend title at CEBL tournament this summer

The Saskatchewan Rattlers will have a chance to reclaim their title as the Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) champions this summer at a CEBL tournament in St. Catherines, Ont., from July 25 to Aug. 9.

CEBL one of the first pro sports leagues in Canada to return to play following COVID-19

The Saskatchewan Rattlers defeated the Hamilton Honey Badgers 94-83 to capture the inaugural Canadian Elite Basketball League championship on Aug. 25, 2019. (Devin Heroux/CBC Sports)

The Saskatoon-based Saskatchewan Rattlers will have a chance to reclaim their title as the Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) champions this summer.

The CEBL will be one of the first professional sports leagues in Canada to return to play following the COVID-19 outbreak when it hosts a tournament in St. Catherines, Ont., from July 25 to Aug. 9.

Lee Genier, president and CEO of the Saskatchewan Rattlers, said strict protocols will be followed under the supervision of medical officials.

"In the middle of a pandemic, you have to look at everything," Genier told CBC's Saskatoon Morning. "First and foremost is the health and safety of everyone involved. [We're] working very closely with the chief medical officer in Niagara and the health authority of Ontario."

Genier said the league is taking over an entire hotel to ensure it's separated from the general public. Teams will play in a bubble-like setting in St. Catharines, with games at the Meridian Centre and practices at a nearby facility.

The Saskatchewan Rattlers celebrate their win in 2019. (Devin Heroux/CBC Sports)

One challenge is that the players are from all over, including the U.S. Travel restrictions have been in place between the U.S. and Canada since March.

Genier said the league is working with the federal and provincial governments to allow players to cross the border.

"They have to quarantine for 14 days in Niagara. And there's, you know, very stringent rules on that but, essentially they have to live in a hotel room for 14 days and not leave."

Genier said players have been training on their own using whatever methods they can — whether that be in a gym, in their house or outside — but there will also be a 10-day training camp in St. Catharines.

"We understand, obviously, that guys do need to train and get back into game shape," he said.

The 2020 CEBL season was meant to start in early May, but was sidelined due to the pandemic.

CBC will have live streams of every game via CBC Gem, cbcsports.ca and the CBC Sports app.

About the Author

Ashleigh Mattern is a reporter and copy editor with CBC Saskatoon and CBC Saskatchewan, and an associate producer with Saskatoon Morning. She has been working as a journalist since 2007 and joined CBC in 2017. Email: ashleigh.mattern@cbc.ca.

With files from Saskatoon Morning and Devon Heroux with CBC Sports

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