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February 27, 2018 | Basketball (M)

Jonathan Koud takes it up the court against Laval.

No place like home for Stingers men's basketball

When the Stingers battle the Laval Rouge et Or in a RSEQ semifinal showdown on Wednesday night at 7 p.m., it will be the first time since 2012 that Concordia hosts a men’s basketball playoff game.

The Quebec conference held a centralized final four tournament from 2014 through 2017, and the Stingers played a playoff game on the road in 2013.

“Everyone is excited to be at home,” said Stingers head coach Rastko Popovic. “When you’ve worked hard all season to get to this point, you want to host your playoff game. It’s a do-or-die game and you want to be in your gym with your fans.”

In four regular season meetings between the teams, Concordia and Laval have split the games evenly. But the Stingers won the last two, including a 71-59 victory last Saturday at home.

While Concordia has qualified for the playoffs each of the last five years, the Stingers were eliminated in the semifinals every time. The last playoff win was also the last time Concordia hosted a post-season game. On Feb. 29, 2012, Concordia defeated Laval 66-65 in the semifinals. The Stingers went on to win the Quebec title with a 77-47 victory over the UQAM Citadins.

Popovic sees good things happening for the Stingers on Wednesday if they stick to the game plan.

“What matters the most is that we play well at both ends of the floor,” said the coach. “We have to control the transition game so we don’t give up easy baskets and we have to do a good job on defensive rebounds. We have to make sure Laval doesn’t get second chance opportunities.”

The Stingers will rely on veteran guard Ricardo Monge to control the pace. They will also look to Schneiders Suffrard and Ken Beaulieu to play significant roles on defence.

Concordia finished in second place in the RSEQ conference with an 11-5 win-loss record for 22 points, while Laval wrapped up the season in third place with an 8-8 record and 16 points.

The first-place McGill Redmen host the fourth-place Bishop’s Gaiters in the conference’s other semifinal game. The winners will meet in the RSEQ championship on Saturday night.

The RSEQ honours will be announced on Wednesday at noon. The Concordia women’s all-stars will join the standouts from both the Laval and Concordia men’s teams for a pregame ceremony at 7 p.m.

Webcast: https://portal.stretchinternet.com/cumo

Concordia Gym: 7200 Sherbrooke St. W., Montreal

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