Xavier Moon looks to be on his way back to the Edmonton Stingers for the 2021 Canadian Elite Basketball League season, and that means the club will continue to put strong team cohesion at the top of the to do list.
Moon, now a two-time CEBL MVP, led the 2020 Summer Series in assists (4.5) and finished second in scoring at 19.5 points per game.
The 2021 CEBL season is set to begin in early May and run until mid-August and the point guard plans on being there.
“I’ll always return to the Stingers as long as they want me back,” said Moon, by Zoom call from Israel, earlier this month. “I told them after last season that I’ll be back, I’m deeply invested in the team and the city.”
Coach Jermaine Small said that he hasn’t spoken to Moon about returning but “definitely” wants him back.
The Stingers ultimate goal this season was to win the CEBL championship heading into the 2020 Summer Series. They did so due in part to their cohesiveness as a unit and team chemistry.
After falling to the Saskatchewan Rattlers, the eventual 2019 champions in the semi-finals that season, the Stingers came into the 2020 Summer Series this past August with redemption in mind.
“I won MVP (in 2019) but at the same time we didn’t win the championship,” said Moon. “We all knew we had to come back with a different mentality.”
The Stingers had seven returning players and they were hungry for the taste of glory. The fiercest of the bunch was Moon, nephew to former Raptor Jamario Moon.
While the Morehead State University product’s offensive prowess played a huge factor in the Stingers 2020 championship, it was their collaboration and resilience as a group that led them there.
“We just had such a great group of guys,” said Small. “They all play for each other even if Xavier scores 20 plus points. He gets the same satisfaction if Jordan Baker make the game winning layup, I think that goes a long way.”
The loss to the Rattlers in 2019 motivated the Stingers to come back focused and ready to work even harder..
“It left a bitter taste in my mouth,” said the former Central Coosa Cougar, Moon’s Alabama high school. “We won nine games straight and eventually we fell to Saskatchewan.
“We knew that even though we won all those games, we didn’t get the job done. We all talked throughout the off-season and we agreed we were all coming back to do one thing and that was to win the championship.”
Moon praised his coach, who he believes installed confidence in the team and made it easier to play for him.
Small, the 2020 CEBL Coach of the Year, was impressed by the team chemistry his Stingers squad possessed.
“This summer we just focused on the process of trying to get better day by day,” said Small. “The good thing is because I brought back most of the core we were naturally cohesive.”
The Stingers went 5-1 during the 2020 regular season earning them a playoff berth. They faced the Guelph Nighthawks in the semi-finals and crushed them 85-71 atop Adika Peter Mcneily’s 21 points and nine rebounds.
Small believes the main reason they were champions is because they were so tight knit compared to the other groups.
The Stingers beat up the Fraser Valley Bandits in the finals defeating them 90-73. Moon exploded offensively scoring 31 points while grabbing five rebounds.
“Everything was working for me that night,” said Moon. “Unlike the first time we played Fraser Valley I was aggressive from the jump; my foot is going to be on the gas all night.”
Moon was picking and choosing the spots he would score. He constantly watches film of his opponents so he could exploit the defence and know where they are weak.
“I took it upon myself to do whatever I needed to do to get that win,” He said.
Small was extremely impressed by Moon’s performance but it wasn’t a shock to him.