Canadian Elite Basketball League casts wider net

Canadian Elite Basketball League casts wider net
A partnership that makes sense on so many levels has developed in Canadian basketball that can not only help the game overall but also individual players, officials and coaches.

The fledgling Canadian Elite Basketball League — a six-team, May-to-August circuit that kicks off next year — has signed a partnership deal with Canada Basketball that will have an impact on the on-court product in myriad ways.

Mike Morreale, CEO of the Canadian Elite Basketball League, and Canada Basketball boss Glen Grunwald strike the pose during Thursday’s press conference to announce ways in which the fledgling circuit and national governing body will work together.  (Barry Gray / The Hamilton Spectator)

The league — with three teams in southern Ontario, one in Saskatoon, another in Edmonton and one based in Abbotsford, B.C. — will play under FIBA rules; have a symbiotic relationship with Canada Basketball that will help fill the expected 70-per-cent Canadian roster requirement with familiar names and local players; and work officially hand-in-hand not only with the national governing body but also its global overseers.

“I think a lot of it is validation,” Mike Morreale, chief executive officer of the CEBL, said at a news conference in Hamilton on Thursday morning. “I think it’s a real opportunity for us as a league that hasn’t tipped off yet … we recognize how important this is for us.”

The most important aspect of the all-encompassing agreement has to do with the ties among the CEBL, Canada Basketball and FIBA as the first so-called Division 1 league in Canada to be affiliated with the worldwide organization.

Standardized player contracts and movement, rules, officiating standards, transferable discipline and the legitimacy bestowed on the new league are significant.

“We’re helping the sport of basketball, and that’s what we’re supposed to be doing,” said Glen Grunwald, president and CEO of Canada Basketball. “And we’re doing it in the right way, with the right values and the right approach and strategically.

“The CEBL is a clean slate. We were able to really think with them, plan together and see what makes the most sense for them to be successful but also to help the sport.”

There are still a few things to be finalized, but it’s down to minutiae now.

The plan is for seven members of every 10-man roster to be Canadian; the salaries will be set on a pro-rated scale akin to what a G League player would make; the league will control player contracts so there are no under-the-table payments to stars that disrupt parity; there will hopefully be some kind of developmental component that will allow current U Sports players to train with professionals in the summer.

The business model does seem to be on target and workable for both the league and the Canadian governing body.

“A lot of (what) was signed off on in this partnership was the criteria we were going for from the outset,” Morreale said. “There was no arm-twisting here to do something different. There was a recognition that we were on the right path. It made sense.”

Having Canadians make up the majority of each roster works in so many ways, and if there’s one thing that’s become apparent in Canadian men’s basketball over the past six months — leading up to the country’s use of 35 different players in a 10-game span to earn a berth in the 2019 FIBA World Cup — it’s that there are more than enough talented players to go around.
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