The Windsor Express began their 2015/16 campaign with a 117-114 loss to the Raptors 905. The exhibition game that took place Thursday night marked the first time a team from the NBL went up against an NBA D-League team.
Led by a 38-point performance from Adrian Moss, the Express were able to overcome a 23-point deficit entering the fourth quarter. Despite the late comeback however, they were unable to make the game-tying shot at the final buzzer.
The Express, who are coming off their second straight NBL championship, are preparing for the upcoming season with high expectations.
“Championship, that’s it. Three-peat, nothing else but championship,” Express forward Jahmal Mcqueen said in regard to his team’s goals for the season, “We’re a good brand of basketball. Windsor Express basketball is a good brand of basketball.”
The significance of Thursday’s game goes well beyond the historic matchup between the two leagues. For the Express, it offered a chance to evaluate and compare their capabilities going up against a talented NBA farm team. Furthermore, it was an opportunity for this organization to gain exposure.
Since coming into existence in 2012, the team has struggled to build a strong fan-base. As a result, the city’s revenue from the team has dropped from $10,500 in 2013/14 to just $33 last season. This exhibition game provided the Express with an opportunity to gain publicity as well as create an early buzz around the team for the upcoming season.
“It’s an opportunity to continue to build our brand,” said VP of Basketball Operations Bill Jones, “It’s good for our organization to be able to go out here and play against an organization in that kind of caliber league, to go out there and show that we belong.”
The initially large and energetic crowd at the WFCU Center was silenced early in the game. The Raptors 905, who despite playing their first game as a franchise, appeared to have the physical advantage over the Express. Early foul trouble and a lack of scoring left people wondering if it was a good decision to participate in this game.
Those who stayed for the final quarter however were able to witness the true potential this team possesses. With good, disciplined defense and overall talent on display, the Express shrunk the lead to just three points with three seconds remaining. An intentionally missed foul shot provided the opportunity for a buzzer-beating finish, a three-point shot from Moss, the game’s leading scorer.
Despite the outcome, the fourth quarter provided an example of what this basketball team can accomplish. Their talent was on display, the crowd was behind them, and all the financial struggles seemed to be washed out in the truly electric atmosphere.
All 20 home games this season will be played at the WFCU Center after the city of Windsor agreed to extend the team’s contract over the next three years.
The Express will begin the regular at home on December 26, 2015 when they will take on the Orangeville A’s.
— Windsor Express (@WindsorExpress) November 6, 2015