Of the 10 teams in the Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL), the Alliance sold the most tickets last season. Concrete proof that basketball culture does indeed exist in the metropolis. And that it only asks to flourish.
Posted at 3:34 p.m.
On average, no less than 2,900 supporters (out of a capacity of 3,467) showed up at the Verdun Auditorium during the team’s home games. Game after game, the crowd was attentive, noisy and invested. And this, even if the troop of Vincent Lavandier recorded only four victories in 20 meetings.
It is also a “relieved and reassured” Annie Larouche who spoke to the media on Tuesday morning, during the assessment of the team’s first season.
“From the beginning, people have told us that they are interested and that they can’t wait to see basketball. It tells us that it was true, argued the vice-president of operations. People showed up. Unfortunately we finished in 10e position, but in our last game, when it was certain that we were not part of the playoffs, we sold out. »
Take it for granted: The Alliance will be back next season. Already 45% of the 658 subscriptions have been renewed in the last week. ” We are back. We can’t wait. We will put everything in place to make the experience even better next year,” added Annie Larouche.
We know that the history of basketball is painful in Montreal. But the success of the Alliance at the box office, which has been maintained throughout the season, suggests the potential to see the team survive in the long term.
The fans are there and liked their experience, what they saw. I am convinced that it is a beautiful story that begins for a long time.
Annie Larouche, vice-president of operations at the Alliance de Montréal
“The best atmosphere in the league”
If there’s anyone who has never doubted the power of basketball culture in Montreal, it’s Hernst Laroche. At 33 and after nine professional seasons abroad, the Quebecer was playing for the first time at home. From the first games, the leader told the media that Montreal was a basketball city. His speech was the same on Tuesday morning.
“I already knew that,” he said. I wasn’t surprised, but I really appreciated the atmosphere, the support. It was really warm. There is no team that had that support. »
Kemy Ossé, his co-captain, was in his third season on the Canadian circuit. He previously played for the Saskatchewan Rattlers. Despite the many setbacks, the Montrealer claims to have had the “greatest experience of [sa] basketball career.
“Because I played at home. In front of my family, my friends. Surely you heard them during the matches, they were everywhere here. It’s a feeling that I wish for a lot of basketball players,” he said.
“It’s the best atmosphere in the league,” he continued. The times when we had no energy, just having that crowd behind us… it was motivating. »
The head coach, Vincent Lavandier, has also compared the dynamism of the Montreal crowd to what we find in Europe.
“There is a basketball culture here in Montreal, that’s for sure, recognized the Frenchman. You have to develop it because you always have to develop things so that they improve. But I’m pleasantly surprised at what’s happening outside the Auditorium. I was spending a Sunday evening here and right next to it there were about ten people playing. It’s interesting, that’s where we see that there is a culture. »
The Alliance also received visits from NBA players Luguentz Dort and Chris Boucher during the season. “It means they believe in us, it gives us credibility,” said Annie Larouche.
Attract more talent
By attracting more fans than any other LECB team, has the Alliance become a more attractive option for talented players? No doubt it is, according to general manager Joel Anthony.
“I’ve already spoken with a lot of people in the league and they said it was the best atmosphere,” said the former NBA player.
“I know it’s a place where everyone wants a chance to play, both for us and against us. I think it will help when we look for other players. It’s a good situation for us. »