New Canadian Elite Basketball League franchise in Edmonton hopes to create buzz

Jason Hills - EDMONTON SUN - JUNE 22, 2018

Will it create a big buzz?

Canadian Elite Basketball League executives hope so.

Edmonton’s newest professional basketball team hasn’t hit the court yet, but the franchise has a team name, logo and head coach.

They’ll be known as the Edmonton Stingers, and the team’s first head coach in franchise history will be Greg Francis.

“When you look at the Stingers logo, there’s an ode to the colour scheme of the Eskimos with the gold and the blue of the Edmonton Oilers. There’s an E for Edmonton in the wing. It’s a hornet and it draws comparisons to the CF-18’s in Cold Lake,” said CEBL CEO Mike Morreale. “Every logo and team name has a story to tell, but you want something that can resonate with the younger demographic as well.

“We wanted to get away from the crests and make it more fun.”

The Stingers are one of six teams in the CEBL, which begins its inaugural season in May, 2019.

Edmonton joins the Niagara, Hamilton, Guelph, Abbotsford and Saskatoon. Four of the six teams have unveiled their name and logos, with Abbotsford and Saskatoon yet to come.

The Stingers new head coach has an extensive head coaching background. Francis has spent more than a decade with the Canadian national team in various coaching and administrative roles.

He also coached the University of Alberta Golden Bears for three seasons. Now he’s getting his first opportunity to coach at the professional level.

“Personally, it’s amazing. I’ve been involved with basketball for a lot of years now, but my job has always moved towards more administrative. To be able to get back and coach at the pro level for me is a dream come true,” said Francis, who is also part of the CEBL executive. “I’ve spent a lot of time developing younger players, but I want to spend my time now working with pros. I love the development side, and I will work with the younger players anytime, but to be able to work with the guys to help them get to that next level. It’s amazing to be a part of it.”

The league will play under FIBA rules, featuring 10-minute quarters, while the 12-player rosters will feature Canadian requirements.

Getting Francis involved with the Stingers and at the league executive level is a to be a big asset in helping grow and sustain the CEBL long-term according to Morreale.

“It’s huge,” he said. “Greg is a tremendous addition and we’re so fortunate that he wants to be part of this. He wants to coach, but he also wants to help grow this Canadian basketball legacy. He’s going to not just help us on the court, he’s going to help establish a relationship with basketball in this community, but internationally.”

Basketball fans can expect to see elite Canadian basketball talent across the league. The league will feature former college and university players who have spent time in Europe playing professionally and up-and-coming Canadian talent.

“For the business side of the CEBL if we can get people to look at their local players and see there are good players. We have great players here in Edmonton and across the province,” said Francis. “If they’re a base for us, and we bring in some strong international players, we’ll have success.”

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Darrin Conway