The Halifax Rainmen are getting a clean slate. The way things went down the stretch, they can use it.
The Rainmen’s championship aspirations took a hit in the second half of the Premier Basketball League season, as they lost five of their final nine games and squeaked into the playoffs by the narrowest of margins.
With the Lawton-Fort Sill Cavalry visiting the Metro Centre tonight at 7 p.m. for Game 1 of the PBL’s best-of-three semifinal, the Rainmen are hoping to use their topsy-turvy finish as a learning experience.
“You can’t get anywhere without facing adversity,” said Rainmen scoring leader Tony Bennett. “The losses we had, we can’t do nothin’ but learn from them. Hopefully we don’t have anymore losses the rest of the year.”
The Rainmen haven’t been able to close out opponents in the late stages of games. Four of their final five losses came in overtime, as the Rainmen missed free throws, lacked composure at both ends of the floor, and couldn’t hit shots when they needed to.
That’s a big concern given the fact the first-place Cavalry have won 15 straight games and are likely to push the game to the final minutes.
“There have been all kinds of little things that have caught us,” said Rainmen head coach Les Berry.
“But I think we’re prepared for those situations a little better now.”
The Cavalry will test the Rainmen all over the floor, with heavyweight big men such as Shawn Daniels and Wayne Marshall who will push them around, and speedy, slashing guards such as MVP candidate DeAnthony Bowden who can burn them.
The teams have met three times this season, with the Cavalry winning twice.
“These guys know us and we know them,” Berry said. “It’s whoever makes more shots and who’s more composed in crucial situations.”
The Rainmen have struggled on the road with a 4-6 record and realize the stakes are high tonight, with Games 2 and 3, if necessary, in Oklahoma.
“The first game is very, very critical,” Berry said.
“We’d like to get off to a good start and put some pressure on them going back home.”