The Concordia Stingers Men’s Basketball team suffered a 78-71 loss against Bishop’s University at the RSEQ semi-finals on Wednesday night, Feb. 26.
Both teams fought tooth-and-nail, with non-stop action at both ends of the court. It was a roller-coaster of a game, each side taking the lead at different times. Ultimately, the last few minutes saw the Gaiters edge the Stingers to a seven-point win.
“It’s one game, it doesn’t mean they’re a better team than us, they were a better team today,” said Stingers head coach Rastko Popovic. “Our guys fought, we competed, it was a close game, back and forth like a playoff game should be.”
The Stingers and Gaiters had come into the semi-finals after splitting four intense regular season games—both teams won twice at their respective home courts. The odds were pretty even coming in, and the determination from both teams was reflected in the scoreline.
“We had a couple of big shots down the stretch,” said Popovic. “I’m more disappointed for our seniors. I’ve been around, I’ve won a lot of games, I’ve lost a lot of games, it’s part of coaching, but this was their last year, their last game, it sucks to lose like this.”
Cedrick Bryan Coriolan and Adrian Armstrong are graduating this year, and although their last game did not pan out the way any Stinger had hoped, they are leaving the team with an impressive repertoire.
Coriolan was named in the RSEQ university men’s basketball honour roll as a second team all-star for his outstanding play in the 2019-20 season. The Stingers guard played 12 games, averaging 11.3 points, 1.3 steals, and 3.1 assists.
During the 2019-20 season, Armstrong made the top-10 list in RSEQ individual university basketball statistics for scoring (average of 13.7), assists, (average 2.9), steals (average 1.4), and three-point percentage (average .326).
“I thank those guys for everything they’ve done, to Concordia University, to Concordia basketball, they came in as boys now they’re leaving as men with their degrees, and at the end of the day that’s what I’m most proud of for them, they’re ready for real life,” said Popovic. “I appreciate their competitiveness, every single day they showed up and really represented what Concordia basketball is, and I’ll love those guys for the rest of my life. This one game doesn’t define their careers, it’s sports, at the end of the game it’s a game. Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose. These guys will become alumna now, the reason we’ve had so much success till now is that they were on the team, and I’m so proud of them.”
As for the rest of the squad, as it goes with sports (and Nelson Mandela), you either win or you learn.
“There are guys coming back, we’ll have new recruits, it’s a cycle that restarts,” said Popovic. “This loss stings and [our team has] got to use that as motivation, everybody can get better.”
With new recruits, as well as the remaining players on the team, the Stingers coach believes the team has a lot to offer, especially with talents that are just starting—like rookie Sami Jahan, who had an incredible first-run with the team, having also been nominated in the RSEQ basketball men’s honour roll.
That’s the joy of coaching, next season starts tomorrow for us, we gotta get ready, and start building towards the summer when we start playing our games,” said Popovic.
Photos by Kyran Thicke