The Saint John Mill Rats professional basketball club made a huge splash from the moment they arrived in the Port City last year. Averaging nearly 4,000 rabid fans and being involved in numerous community events last year ingratiated them to a more than willing fan base. The end of last year’s Premier Basketball League season on March 31st left fans wanting more, and wondering “what’s next?”
What’s next was that the Saint John Mill Rats along with their Canadian counterparts, the Halifax Rainmen and Quebec Kebs, have helped to launch the new National Basketball League of Canada. The upstart league now boasts seven Canadian franchises with expansion teams located in Summerside (PEI), Moncton (NB), Oshawa (ON), and London (ON).
The NBL Canada was introduced to the public on May 12th with three simultaneous press conferences in Halifax, Saint John, and Quebec, and has received tremendous media and fan attention worldwide. With the NBA currently in a lockout, the timing couldn&pos;t have been better for Canada to have its own national basketball league. In fact, Canada was the only country in the world in the top 30 in basketball that did not have its own professional league. That is until now!
The Mill Rats announced the re-signing of the head coach from last season, former NBA World Champion Jaren Jackson. Jackson, Mill Rats VP David Cooper, and President & General Manager Ian McCarthy traveled to Toronto in August to participate in the inaugural NBL Canada Draft. The draft was held after a two day combine in which 200 players from around the world showcased their skills for the front offices of the seven teams. On Sunday night August 21st, over 6000 people from 93 countries tuned in to watch the live stream of the draft.
The Saint John Mill Rats made history by selecting the first ever Canadian player in 6’4 guard Jerome Brown from Toronto. They followed that up by drafting 5’11 guard Sherton Sanderson from Markham, Ontario with their second selection, and 6’5 forward Kevin Massiah from Toronto with their third pick.
The team has also re-signed their two leading scorers from last season, 5’11 guard Anthony Anderson and 6’7 forward Marc Egerson. Also returning is sharpshooting forward Steve Deluca and 6’10 centre Modibo Diarra. Rumours abound about an NBA player heading to Saint John with the current lockout situation.
So the Mill Rats are now poised to challenge for the inaugural NBL Canada championship. Training camp opens in Saint John on October 17th followed by an exhibition game at the Richard J. Currie Centre on the campus of UNB-Fredericton on October 23rd at 2pm. The Rogers Slam Dunk night preseason contest is slated for Thursday October 27th at 7pm at Harbour Station followed by the regular season home opener on November 6th at 2pm versus the London Lightning.
As the saying goes: “It’s Showtime ‐ be a part of it!”
Saint John Mill Rats Home Games
Harbour Station, 99 Station St., Saint John
Tickets can be purchased at Harbour Station, or by calling (506) 657-1234 or toll free 1-800-267-2800.