Pro basketball coming to Fraser Valley


Retired longtime CFL receiver Mike Morreale hopes he can parlay his football background into a successful league for Canadian basketball players and fans.

"The opportunity to get back into sport was huge, and very important, it's something I'm passionate about," Morreale said. "It's great to get back into it and get your hands dirty and hopefully create some positive change."

The CEBL also announced on Wednesday that former Canadian Football League player Mike Morreale has been appointed the leagues CEO. Morreale has already been working with the league for a year to recruit basketball experts.

The inaugural campaign will see a 20-game regular-season schedule and single-elimination playoffs, with teams in Edmonton, Saskatoon, Hamilton, the Niagara region, Guelph, Ont., and B.C.'s Fraser Valley, B.C.

Yorktons Farrell Agencies Arena is usually filled with orange and black, but those colours were traded in for green and yellow on Thursday night for a benefit hockey game in support of the Humboldt Broncos.

Morreale was the president of the CFL Players' Association until 2014, and was working with a Calgary-based private jet company when he crossed paths with Richard Petko, the owner of the Niagara River Lions which currently play in the 10-team National Basketball League of Canada.

Tim Hortons says the sale of a doughnut bearing the colours of the Humboldt Broncos has helped raise more than $800,000 for the junior hockey team that was involved in a horrific collision earlier this month.

"Along the way we got talking about creating something really special, creating a legacy for basketball, filling the void that kind of exists in Canada for professional basketball," Morreale said.

The team from Saskatoon will tip off against teams from Edmonton, Hamilton, Niagara, Guelph and Fraser Valley. Each team will have a 12 player roster and will play 10 home games and 10 away games.

The 46-year-old Morreale played 12 seasons in the CFL, splitting time with Toronto and Hamilton, winning a Grey Cup with the Argonauts in 1996 and with the Tiger-Cats in '99. Morreale was named the most outstanding Canadian in 1998.

"We certainly looked at the leagues that had come before, we looked at where they did well, and where the pitfalls were," Morreale said. "And we structured our organization in a way that looked at the best practices of not just basketball leagues out there but other professional leagues, across this country and internationally."

RCMP have confirmed that the semi-truck involved in a deadly crash with the Humboldt Broncos team bus was in the intersection at the time of the collision.

"We settled on a structure that we believe can be strong in the short-term and the long-term, with a corporate model similar to the MLS when they started where the league will operate the six territories and really be completely funded," he said.

Under a corporate structure, Canadian Basketball Ventures, the league will foot the bill for everything from ticketing platforms, to national sponsorships, to marketing.

"It's a multimillion dollar investment, because that allows you to do this properly," Morreale said. "If we're going to do it, we're going to do it right … and really create a playbook for our local territories to thrive and be successful with the support from head office at every turn."

While the NBL is about to wrap up its season, the CEBL will operate May through August, and will play under FIBA rules, which include 10-minute quarters.

Among other personnel announcements Wednesday, Greg Francis will be the league's head of basketball, in charge of coach and player recruitment. Francis is Canada Basketball's manager of men's high performance.

John Lashway was named president of the Hamilton team and the league's executive vice-president of strategy and communications. Lashway previously worked in communications and community development for the Toronto Raptors and Portland Trail Blazers.

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Inaugural season to feature teams from Fraser Valley, B.C., Edmonton, Alta., Saskatoon, Sask, Guelph, Ont., Niagara, Ont. and Hamilton, Ont.

TORONTO, May 2, 2018 /CNW/ – The Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) today announced the six teams that will compete in next years inaugural season in addition to key leadership appointments to establish this new professional basketball league. The CEBL will begin its first season in May 2019 and will run a 20-game regular season schedule, in addition to playoffs and championship series in August 2019.

–> The new Canadian Elite Basketball League announces teams for inaugural season that kicks off next May 2019. (CNW Group/Canadian Elite Basketball League) New pro basketball teams in Edmonton, Alberta, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and Hamilton, Ontario will join previously announced teams in Niagara, Ontario, Guelph, Ontario, and Fraser Valley, B.C. for the 2019 season.  Each team will have a 12-player roster and will play 10 home and 10 away games during the summer season.

The CEBL also announced that business executive and veteran CFL pro football player Mike Morreale has been appointed CEO. Following his CFL career, Morreale served as the President of the CFL Players Association, and as a senior executive in the Canadian business community. For the past year Morreale has been developing the leagues inaugural season and recruiting a team of basketball and sports marketing experts to staff CEBLs front office.

“I am delighted to confirm our first six teams that will tip off one year from now in Canadas newest pro basketball league next summer,” said Morreale.  “With basketball surging in popularity in Canada we focused on communities that are rich in grassroots community fan support and share a passion for fast-paced action.”

According to the Canadian Youth Sports Report basketball is the second most popular team sport among new Canadian youth, next to soccer.1 This year, for the second straight season basketball players from Canada were the largest representation in the NBA from outside of the U.S.

“Its always a great thing when more people are able to play basketball in Canada. I applaud the efforts made by the Canadian Elite Basketball League,” said Michele OKeefe, President and CEO, Canada Basketball.

“With Greg, Lee, John, Glenn and the rest of our CEBL team we bring decades of rich experience in sports and league management to ensure our league becomes one of the best and most competitive basketball leagues in the world,” said Morreale.

Canadian ContentIn an effort to provide Canadian basketball stars the opportunity to play at an elite level, the CEBL will ensure Canadian players make up a large part of team rosters.  According to Francis, Canada continues to develop some phenomenal basketball players.  “We have 13 players in the NBA and many more on their way who are currently playing in the NCAA and U Sports,” said Francis.  Many of our home-grown talents head to Europe to find elite basketball competition in the summer but now they will have an opportunity to play here in their own backyard with other international stars,” he added.

Name the Team – Community OutreachAs part of its community outreach, the CEBL will enlist fan support to develop a name for each respective team. In addition, the CEBL will work closely with the teams to develop grassroots community initiatives that will be announced later this Summer.

New Basketball Experience – #HOLDCOURT Campaign Launch Creative Launch campaign creative is a nod to the full experience CEBL will be providing Canadian basketball fans. 

An emblem on top of a court features an athlete, a DJ, cheerleader and food icons. CEBL fans will discover that these are not just basketball games they are a full entertainment experience that starts well before tip-off, where fans can come together to experience local food vendors and their community. DJs will be playing music thats integrated into game play in a way thats never been done before — throughout the entire game. Local cheerleading squads and talent showcased between game play rounds out the offering, creating a new family-friendly experience for Canadian fans and players alike. Colours are a nod to the beautiful summer days and nights the league will be active. 

About the Canadian Elite Basketball League The Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) is a professional basketball league that plays in the Spring and Summer with teams located across Canada. The CEBL will provide sports fans with premium entertainment while also allowing players, coaches and other stakeholders the opportunity to engage in the sport of basketball at the highest level. The CEBL will operate in accordance with the player and referee standards set by Canada Basketball, the National Sporting Organization for the sport of Basketball in Canada. The league will proudly adhere to the International Basketball Federations (FIBA) rules and regulations. For updates and more information, please visit

Darrin Conway