YORKTON - The Canadian Elite Basketball League has a rather different looked headed toward the 2023 season with an expansion team in Winnipeg and the Calgary Surge.
The Calgary franchise originated as the Guelph Nighthawks in 2018, one of the six founding members of the CEBL. The organization was relocated from the league’s smallest market to Calgary in August as part of the growing league’s business strategy to have teams in Canada’s largest metropolitan areas.
Nelson Terroba, current Associate Head Coach for the Texas Legends of the NBA G League, was recently announced as the Surge’s first head coach.
“It’s a big time opportunity. It’s a big time privilege,” Terroba told Yorkton This Week in a recent interview.
Terroba said the decision to take on the Surge role was largely based on what he sees with the overall league.
“I think number one the CEBL is an elite, world class league,” he said.
“The quality of player in the league is very high.”
Terroba, who hails from Texas, is not new to the CEBL. He served as Lead Assistant Coach for the Saskatchewan Rattlers in April 2020.
Prior to his time with the Rattlers, Nelson served as General Manager and head coach for the Saint John Riptide of the National Basketball League of Canada. The Riptide qualified for the playoffs in both years he was with the team. During his tenure, he also led the Riptide to first and second place finishes in the league’s overall defensive rankings.
Terroba also brings valuable G League experience to the Surge.
As associate head coach for the Texas Legends, the G League affiliate of the Dallas Mavericks, Terroba aided the Legends in qualifying for the playoffs as the number-five seed in the 2021-2022 season. He also served as Interim Head Coach in Round 1 of the NBA G League Playoffs, leading the Legends to their first playoff win in team history against the Birmingham Squadron.
While the Surge have a background in the CEBL in Guelph, the nature of the league means teams basically rebuild from the ground-up every season, so it will be up to Terroba to mold the new team into a competitive unit in a new market.
“It’s what we do to develop the players, that’s the whole thing,” he offered.
In terms of philosophy Terroba starts from a rather straight forward foundation.
“I tell players everyday, be truthful and be prepared,” he said.
On the court preparedness means being in sync with teammates.
“We want to be connected,” offered Terroba, adding players need to be aware of their individual responsibilities as the flow of the game changes.
And, Terroba wants the best from his charges.
“We want to maximize our players talent,” he said, adding that means “they can’t just play hard, they need to think too.”
Of course taking a coaching job in the CEBL means dealing with the unique aspects of the league, FIBA rules. The Elam ending, and of course the Canadian content requirement.
In the case of FIBA rules Terroba said that is an important element of the CEBL as most players are hoping to catch the eye of teams in Europe and Asia for opportunities there.
The Elam ending is something Terroba has dealt with as the G League adopted the Elam Ending for its 2022–23 season under the name ‘Final Target Score’
Finding Canadian talent of course is huge in the CEBL, something Terroba and GM Shane James are already working on as they begin building a roster.
“It’s a key part of the league. It’s one of the neat things about the league . . . You have to dress a balanced roster,” offered Terroba.
Taking the job with the Surge also drops Terroba into the middle of the Battle of Alberta, this time on the basketball court with the Edmonton Stingers.
The teams meet May 27, and Terroba said the franchise is already excited for the encounter.
“It will be a big night for everybody here,” he said, adding opening nights are always big “but rivalries always make games more fun.”
So is there pressure to build a team quickly in a new CEBL market?
“I think pressure is always self-imposed,” offered Terroba, adding regardless of the league or place he tries to take the same approach.
“At the end of the day pressure is a good thing. It tells you you’re doing something important to you.”
The Surge will begin play when the 2023 season tips off in May, with WinSport Event Centre serving as the team’s home.