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Fraser Valley Bandits advance to CEBL Championship Game

It wasn’t pretty at all, but the Fraser Valley Bandits have advanced to the Canadian Elite Basketball League final.

The Bandits trailed for much of the game, but the Elam Ending saw the club keep pushing and refuse to go away to squeak out a 76-75 win over the Hamilton Honey Badgers on Saturday morning.

Hamilton was up 73-67 with an Elam Ending target score of 76, but a little bit of hero ball followed. Hamilton missed three straight three point shot attempts and meanwhile the Bandits kept chipping away at the lead. Fraser Valley eventually went up 74-73, but Hamilton responded with a field goal to go up 75-74 with the Bandits getting the ball back.

Olu Ashaolu then battled in the paint to get the winning shot and send the Bandits to the final with the 76-75 win.

“Honestly that wasn’t the play,” he said, following the winning shot. “I set the screen, I didn’t get tagged. Junior [Cadougan] found me, I was looking for a foul or some contact and nothing came so I took my time and finished.”

Ashaolu said last year’s struggles are not on the Bandits mind as they prepare for the championship game.

“It’s a whole new team,” he said. “You can’t judge this team by last year’s performance. We’re going for the gold, we came here to win this.”

Hamilton shot better, grabbed more rebounds and controlled the game, but the Bandits hung around and got hot when it mattered.

Fraser Valley also faced some adversity when versatile forward Marcus Capers, who had been defending Hamilton’s post players, received a technical foul in the third quarter. As he returned to the bench Capers kicked the advertising sign at the scorers table and then was disqualified from the game. No word on the condition of the sign.

It was an all-around team effort in the win, but the Bandits were led by Malcom Duvivier, who played nearly the entire game and collected 18 points and eight rebounds. Abbotsford’s Marek Klassen also had a strong game with 12 points and four rebounds. Jahenns Manigat added 13 points, six assists and four rebounds.

Fraser Valley will take on the winner of today’s game between the Edmonton Stingers and the Ottawa Blackjacks. The CEBL Championship Game is set for 9 a.m. on Sunday.

Visit abbynews.com for coverage of tomorrow’s championship game.

RELATED: Fraser Valley Bandits clinch first round bye with win

Ben Lypka

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