Concordia 79, Bishop’s 71: Stingers Men’s Basketball Punches Ticket to Finals
Armstrong Shines in Strong Performance to Earn Stingers a Spot in RSEQ Championship
“Is not over until we get to nationals,” said Sami Ghandour after his team secured a spot in the RSEQ final game beating the Bishop’s Gaiters on Wednesday.
It took a marquee 79-71 win over the number three team in the province to make this happen.
Having lost against the Gaiters by two points during their last visit to Lennoxville, the Stingers knew they had to hammer the Gaiters on home court, leading to an intense and emotional first.
Both teams knew it was a death race.
The Stingers opened the game with Ontario native Adrian Armstrong taking his chance on big threes. He scored 12 points in the first quarter and 22 overall adding four rebounds as well.
The Stingers shot 11 threes in total, limiting themselves to 13 turnovers during the whole game.
Armstrong stole the show as he sank a clutch shot in the final minutes of the game making it impossible for the Gaiters to come back at that point.
In spite of the win, the playmaker kept himself composed after the game, as he knows big things are waiting on Saturday.
“It’s good to play this kind of game but as I said, it’s about time to shift the ropes for Saturday,” said Armstrong.
Concordia’s offence has been a huge reason for the success they’ve seen this season, justifying their stronghold on first place in the league standings. The Maroon and Gold couldn’t stop shooting as Ghandour scored 23 points and nine rebounds making him the game-high player in both .
The first half ended with 41-32 with the Stingers leading after a sharp dunk by Ghandour.
“We work every day acknowledging that we must take this one game at a time, one quarter at a time. we practice every day, we know it’s baby steps,” commented Ghandour on his performance during the game.
The veteran felt like his defence helped him a lot with his confidence during the game.
“I’m getting shots, we started stops after stops and we just capitalized on it.” Ghandour went on to elaborate that the essence of the Stingers success as a team was taking everything one step at a time.“None of us made it to nationals, so none of us can get complacent”.
The Stingers knew they pretty much started from the bottom. Their playoff semi-final scenario was repeated for the second year consecutively with a W. However and before that, the team vanished in the semi-finals round twice.
“We’re a lot more experienced now, we lost in the semis two years in a row. We were just already thinking of the finals trying to beat McGill. We weren’t focused on the task we had at the time. Our whole core unit was there, just letting the guys know that we can’t let that happen,” said Armstrong reflecting on the past season.
“None of us made it to nationals, so none of us can get complacent.” —Sami Ghandour
As for head coach Rastko Popovic, he was more than proud of his players execution on the floor and their work-ethic and mindset.
“So many guys stepped up. I credit it to our guys, sticking to what we believe in, believing in our culture, believing in what we stand for. We don’t take many days off, were constantly at the gym,” he said.
Popovic, who was honoured with the Coach of the Year award Wednesday night, emphasized on the fact his players understood the team’s mission and the rest was history.
“This is what we live for, we live for this [the playoffs]. I credit our guys, they get all the credit in the world,” said Popovic.When asked about the award he received, he explained that for him, this was all teamwork and that everybody was part of the award.
“I represent Concordia I’ve been here my whole life. it’s so nice to be recognized but it’s all about the team,” said Popovic.
Fifth year Ricardo Monge who was last season’s team second team all-star was presented the league MVP title prior to the start of the game on Wednesday.
“It’s always nice to know you’re getting recognized for your performances. It makes me feel more confident when I come into games,” said Monge.
Coach Popovic was very pleased with his player’s accomplishments.
”He’s in the gym all the time, he pushes himself. I take my hat off to this guy what he does have to do daily. I’m so proud of what he did and he deserves all the credit for what he has accomplished,” he said of Monge.
Adrian Armstrong earned a spot on the first team all-star award and Olivier Simon was named to the second.
The league final will be held at Concordia on Saturday at 7 p.m. where the Stingers will be taking on the Université de Québec à Montréal Citadins to compete for the Championship title.