Brampton Honey Badgers set for championship rematch against Scarborough Shooting Stars
Published May 26, 2023 at 1:20 pm
Brampton’s newest sports franchise is back for another season as the reigning Canadian Elite Basketball League championship-winning Honey Badgers are ready to defend the title.
The Honey Badgers kicked off the new CEBL season earlier this week with a loss to the Ottawa BlackJacks, but the team is gearing up to host the Scarborough Shooting Stars on Friday for a rematch of the 2022 final, which saw the Honey Badgers take the title with a 90-88 win last August.
The Shooting Stars will be in Brampton for the game at the CAA Centre, the Honey Badger’s new home after leaving Hamilton last year.
During the season break as players went their separate ways to play in other leagues, the texts, jokes and memes kept coming in the Honey Badgers group chat. That close-knit relationship between teammates is one of the reasons guard and Final MVP Christian Vital returned this year.
“We’re here for the summer. This isn’t a one-week, two-week thing. So knowing that, we all committed to the full summer of competing together and just being in each other’s spaces,” Vital said. “It was important knowing that it was always going to be this group of guys that I was going to do that with because I know it works.”
Vital led the Honey Badgers with 17.4 points per game last season and re-signed with the team on May 10. The 26-year-old Vital is one of six players returning from last year’s team and he said that knowing they “made it work” in 2022 drew him back to the team.
“We were able to stay with each other and no one jumped ship, no one abandoned the boat, everyone, if anything, locked in more,” said Vital after practice on Tuesday. “We made sure that everyone was going to have a successful summer.
“That was big time. That was everything.”
Forward Jeremiah Tilmon Jr., forward Zane Waterman, Canadian forward Prince Oduro, as well as Canadian guards Cody John and Kyle Johnson also re-signed with the team.
“It’s exciting. A lot more talent came back this summer,” said Tilmon, who re-signed with Brampton on April 13 after playing 12 games with the Raptors 905 of the NBA G League in the winter.
“We want to defend our title and run it back. That’s what we’re worried about – running it back.”
Although the roster has remained largely untouched, there have been two major changes with the team.
First, is the team’s permanent move from Hamilton to Brampton’s CAA Centre – a move made necessary as the Hamilton First Ontario Centre is closed for extensive renovations. The other big change is that Antoine Broxsie was named the Honey Badgers’ new head coach, replacing 2022 CEBL coach of the year Ryan Schmidt who was unable to return for a fourth season due to his obligations to the London Lions of the British Basketball League.
Broxsie said that at first, it seemed like big shoes to fill, but that the team’s culture is so strong his concern soon faded.
The Honey Badgers may have won the CEBL title last year but the team fell in the quarterfinals of the Basketball Champions League Americas (BCLA) in January.
The Brampton Honey Badgers take on the Scarborough Shooting Stars at the CAA Centre at 7:00 p.m. on Friday. Visit www.HoneyBadgers.ca for more information or to purchase tickets.
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