The Halifax Rainmen have done plenty of talking over the past couple of months. On Friday night, they backed it up.

The Rainmen won their home opener in the Premier Basketball League, cruising past the Quebec Kebs 124-112 and pleasing the Metro Centre crowd of 4,012 with their athleticism and flashy dunks.

Eric Crookshank, the face of the team last season, put an exclamation point on the win with a thundering jam in the final minute, and the crowd chanted “Rainmen, Rainmen” as the seconds ticked down.

“This was great,” said Rainmen newcomer Rob Sanders, a veteran standout in the minor-pro ranks. “We wanted to give the fans something to come back for. It looks like we accomplished that.”

The Rainmen are unbeaten early in the PBL season after winning their first three contests. They got out of the gates slowly on Friday night, trailing 28-26 after the first quarter. Then they went on a 38-22 run in the second quarter to grab the lead for good.

Crookshank and Sanders posted game-highs with 26 points; point guard Jimmy Twyman had 15; guard Glen Dandridge chipped in with 12; and small forward Brian Silverhorn had 11.

The crowd was smaller than the announced attendance 4,343 for last year’s home-opener in the American Basketball Association, but it was loud at times. It wouldn’t be a shock if many are back for the next home game on Sunday at 2 p.m. against the Montreal Sasquatch.

“This is way better than crowds for other teams I’ve played for,” said Sanders, a 6-foot-8 forward who spent last season with the ABA’s Manchester Millrats. “It was packed, the energy was great, and you’re into it. The aches and pains go away and you’re hyped all game.

“I can’t wait for Sunday.”

The Rainmen, who hadn’t played on home court in more than 300 days, have been hyping their product for the past few months, trumpeting every signing and their new, improved roster.

Sanders, who didn’t play the first two games of the season with a heel injury, is a perfect example of what they’ve been talking about. He didn’t even start the game, but finished it as the team’s minute leader and top scorer. No player saw more than 33 minutes.

“Our team is real deep, and it really doesn’t matter who starts or finishes,” said Sanders. “Anybody can be the man any night.”

NOTES: Crookshank, Silverhorn, Dandridge, Kevin Hammack and Cordell Jeanty formed the starting five … Sanders and David Bailey were first off the bench … Sanders had a team-best nine rebounds … Crookshank was 12-of-16 and had some spectacular dunks … Former Laval University star Charles Fortier led the Kebs with 24 points.


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