Edmonton's Robbie Sihota earns Player of the Week nod
After putting up a combined 40 points and 28 rebounds in two huge wins for the Edmonton Energy (6-3), forward Robbie Sihota has been named International Basketball Player of the Week.
Sihota helped the Energy in their 70-point win over Salem going 6-of-9 from the field for 18 points and 8 rebounds. He followed that up the next night with 22 points and 20 rebounds – including 10 on the offensive glass – while shooting 8-of-11 from the field – as Edmonton beat Salem again 131-103. All this while coming off the bench, a role Sihota is quite comfortable with after starting just two games this season.
“I like to play a very aggressive style and feel like on any night I can be called on to different things for our team whether that's scoring, rebounding or providing a defensive presence,” said the 6’7” forward who is averaging 13.9 points and 9.9 rebounds per game on the season. “I feel like my role on the team is to come in and provide a physical presence for our team.”
Sihota hails from the University of Calgary where he was a member of three division champion teams and was voted second team All-Canada West League his senior year. From there, he played overseas with the Rotterdam Challengers of the Dutch Basketball League in 2010 and in Luxembourg in 2011. “My time overseas has been great and I feel like it really has helped me realize how hard players have to work to get to a top level and the commitment it takes on a daily basis to achieve my personal goals,” explained Sihota, whose goal is to be able compete at a higher level each year.
Energy Coach Dave Youngs praised Sihota when saying, “"Robbie gives us great presence off the bench consistently, which is not an easy role for some players to fill.”
Sihota’s grit and versatility has made him an effective player in a variety of roles. "Whether I start or come off the bench I approach the game the same way and come in with the same attitude to help our team,” he said.
Sihota will look to keep things going as the Olympia Reign visit Edmonton for a pair of games Friday and Saturday. Both games tip off at the Saville Centre at 7 p.m.
For more information on the Edmonton Energy, visit www.ibl.com/edmonton_energy.
IBL Weekend in Review
On Thursday, the Portland Chinooks got 32 points and 18 rebounds from Everett Spencer off the bench and beat Olympia 136-10. Spencer shot an outstanding 14-of-22 from the field and also chipped in eight assists for a near triple-double. The Reign’s Nicholas Moore scored 25 points but the team struggled from the field – especially from three-point range where they were just 4-28. The win was the fourth straight for Portland, who also got strong performances from David Lucas (30 points), Jared Cunningham (22 points and 11 rebounds), and Darren Cooper (14 points and 11 assists).
Vancouver used a big third quarter advantage to win one of the highest scoring games of the year, 150-138 over Portlandon Friday. A 17-point advantage in the third gave the Volcanoes a 10-point lead going into the fourth where the Volcanoes were able to hold off Portland. The Chinooks, playing back-to-back road games, got 47 points and 9 rebounds from David Lucas. Andre Murray and Dominique Watson, two of the IBL’s top scorers, combined for 69 points for the Volcanoes who made 19 three pointers in the game.
Bellingham continued their strong play, winning their seventh in a row 145-94 at home against Olympia. The Slam used a balanced scoring load (eight players in double figures) to dominate the Reign wire-to-wire. They were led by reigning Player of the Week Paul Hafford who chipped in 28 points. The offense was outstanding, but defense was key to the win as Bellingham held Olympia to just 32.5% field goal percentage and forced 21 turnovers. The Reign will look to get a lift from having former Seattle Supersonics star Gary Payton in attendance at Thursday's game versus the Nippon Tornadoes at the Little Creek Casino, before heading north for international competition against the Edmonton Energy over the weekend.
Also in Friday, stifling defense and hot shooting gave Edmonton their biggest win of the season, 142-72 over Salem. The Energy outscored Salem by double digits in every quarter and got 84 points from their bench – outscoring Salem from there alone. Rashaun Broadus led the way with 21 points and 8 assists and Daniel Ferguson added 19 points and 10 assists for the Energy.
On Saturday, the Volcanoes hosted the Nippon Tornadoes from Japanand cruised to an easy 153-119 victory. Former Gonzaga guard Jordan Mast had 48 points and 13 rebounds from the Tornadoes, the most scored in an IBL game this season by the import playing with the team. Andre Murray had another strong game for Vancouver with 26 points while center Calvin Hampton had 15 points and 13 rebounds off the bench. The teams combined for 36 made three point field goals – 20 from Vancouver. It was the Japanese team’s first game of the IBL season and will continue to add players from the BJ League as they complete commitments from their season in Japan.
After a big loss Friday night, Salem battled Edmonton again with a strong first half, but fell 131-103. Rashaun Broadus added another 21 points and 11 assists after a strong performance the previous night and Robbie Sihota had 22 points and 20 rebounds as Edmonton was able to take control of the game and cruise easily for the second night in a row. The Energy’s hot play has gotten them to 6-3, behind only Bellingham in the International Conference.
On Monday, Morris Anderson’s triple-double helped give Bellingham another huge win, 155-101 against the Nippon Tornadoes. Anderson had 19 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists while Paul Hafford and Jacob Steveson had 27 apiece for the Slam, who are now 9-1 and on an eight game winning streak. Jordan Mast, of the Japanese team, had an even more impressive triple-double of 38 points, 20 rebounds, and 10 assists. Through two games of IBL play, Mast is showing he definitely belongs by averaging 43 points per game and 17.5 rebounds. Bellingham dominated the boards 72-48 and made 21 three-point baskets.
Through five weeks of IBL action the Bellingham Slam have been impressive, dropping their second game of the year before winning their next eight to improve to 9-1 on the year. Not too far behind are the defending champion Vancouver Volcanoes, who seem to have hit their stride now at 7-3. Edmonton, winners of three out of their last four, have improved their record to 6-3 and are definitely still a threat to Bellinghamin the International Conference. It’s been a tough season so far for first year teams Salem (2-6) and Orlando (1-7) but the Soldiers were the only team to beat the league-leading Slam this season. Portland (5-4) and Olympia (2-8) are teams looking to make moves in the second half of the season while the Jersey G-Force finished their inaugural branding season schedule at 4-2.
High scoring in the IBL is something that our fans and athletes enjoy and saw a lot of this past week, created on purpose by the League through our rules and the game management of IBL Officials.
In talking with our former Commissioner Mikal Duilio about the question we have been asked frequently, we agree that our fast-paced action packed games can partly be attributed to speeding up the game with our 22 second shot clock as well as cutting down on stoppages in play. With now four mandatory media time outs which are 90 seconds each in a game and four time outs of 60 seconds each available per team, of which per game on average teams take only three time outs, we see less pause, therefore more scoring. “Looking at a game with average of 10 time outs, one team is not really able to stop the other team with a time out. If a team is hot your answer has to be that your team gets hot, you have to pick up your offensive game in the IBL,” stated Dulio in our conversation. This is termed as dual runs where both teams are scoring on both baskets showcasing their basketball I.Q. in pressure situations, athleticism and creating excitement in the game.
In the NBA game with 6 full time outs and 2-20 second time outs as well as media breaks and ball handling by the Officials to manage the game, more stoppage in play allows the defensive team to have an advantage to set up, review players, administer substitutions and plan for their answer to the opposition with more time between athletes and coaches.
Any league increases scoring with reduction in time outs and game management with a focus on keeping the ball in play. From the free throw line to in-bounding the ball, IBL Officials keep the game moving. Vince Elmore, a long time official talked with me more about how the game is managed: “We keep the game at a fast pace and is high scoring because we keep the ball in play. For example our inbounds process is similar to FIBA because the ball is inbound by the player and ready for play during a violation which leads to more fast breaks, while in the NBA the ball is handed to the Official and then to the player. In the free throw environment we administer and educate the players to complete the process quickly or they will get delay of game. Many of our athletes have played in Europe and other countries where teams are offensive minded.”
We continued to review and reflect on the small variables that make the game a quicker pace. “For example,” Elmore shared, “in a recent Bellingham Slam versus Vancouver Volcanoes game we were at four fouls about to be in the bonus, and I remember going up and down the floor, checking the shot clock and there were 6 threes in a quick time frame.” Some teams play the inside game, half court basketball, which takes up more time at the end of half end of the game, however we find during the game itself it is up and down the court where long rebounds are taken into fast breaks and slams where you hear the crowd cheer!
The IBL also keeps our Officials in shape. “I can’t wait for the media time out to catch our breath; these guys are getting us in shape too! We have teams that play defensively however we have great guards that can shoot so well, slashing and going to the basket. It reminds me of the old show time with the Lakers Magic and Cooper, with not a lot of post up, the ball is going to the hole! Teams can defend all they want, but when a talented athlete drives to the basket, or steps back from the 3 point line and it’s good, there is not much you can do to defend that.”
Our players are ready to go when they get on the floor, the mentality of the IBL athlete is different as we see this with college players transitioning as they can get behind and have to catch up; it doesn’t take them long. Getting the ball into play and get ready to go is the mentality of our officials managing the game. “No down time, believe me I know,” Elmore shared about his game experience, “the IBL makes me a better Official, making decisions or deciding to not make one at all. For example, a little bump won’t be called, we let them play, block the shot and let the play go; it’s like professional playoff basketball every game.”
Over the years we have seen better fast defense, blocked shots and steals in our league as we continue to improve on the court with talented athletes, coaches and owners putting competitive teams together, the best we have seen in the IBL yet with more to come. Our league has high flying athletics and believe the game is meant to be packed into a short amount of time for our players to condition, perform and progress if you can’t stop them you better score with them.
Get in the game! Keep up with the IBL and its member teams by visiting the official league website at www.ibl.com.