Men’s Basketball Team Preview

Friday, October 13, 2023


Well this hasn’t been said for a while; When the Pilots Men’s Basketball team takes the court in Saskatchewan on Saturday evening against the ACAC’s Briercrest Clippers, they will be entering with the tile of, “Manitoba’s best.”

Entering his sixth season at the helm, head coach Pierre Dubreuil has successfully taken his program to the pinnacle of provincial basketball accomplishments and is eager to see if his team can stay on top in Manitoba and establish themselves as contenders for a championship in the leagues they compete in south of the border: the NIAC, ACCA and NCCAA.    

Despite the loss of Pilots mainstay and team leader Josh Armstrong to graduation, nine players return from the roster that lifted the 2023 MCAC banner including conference co-MVP, Riley Paul (Brandon, MB). The powerful and versatile 6’7 forward led his team in almost every statistical category in 2022-23, including points per game (17.2), rebounds per game (9.7) and assists per game (4.0). On top of those numbers, Paul has established himself as a feared rim-protector. The Brandon-native counted a massive 23 blocks in 24 games played last season and opponents will be thinking twice before attacking the Pilots basket.

Joining Paul in the Pilots’ frontcourt is second-year center, Emmanuel Oleko (Paris, France). With one season of North American basketball under his belt, 6’8 Oleko will be pressing for more minutes and will look to improve on the numbers he posted in his rookie campaign, where he averaged just shy of 10 points and 8 rebounds a contest.

The Pilots’ backcourt is bursting with returnees, led by the teams’ leader in 3 pointers-made last season, Blake Garing (Winnipeg, MB) and the MCAC’s True Sport award winner, Kevin Martinez (Guelph, ON). Garing topped all Pilots’ shooters with 34 made-threes and averaged a team-high 34% from behind the arc. At the point guard position, Martinez is an offensive facilitator who is now entering his third season in Otterburne. He will look to grow on his 6.9 points and 2.4 assists per game from a season ago.

One returnee who will be pushing for more minutes in the Pilots’ backcourt in 2023-24 is sophomore, Raphael Rhys Maestre (Vancouver, BC). The west-coaster proved himself to be a three-point threat in his rookie campaign, hitting on 31% of his attempts from downtown, good for 22 threes-made while averaging 7.0 points per game as a freshman.

Dubreuil makes mention of two newcomers in the Pilots’ backcourt who he expects will challenge his veterans for minutes. Carey Richardson (Caddo Mills, TX) comes to Otterburne as a transfer from Dallas Christian, having played two seasons with the Crusaders. Now entering the Providence roster as a junior and having been off a college court since 2020, Richardson brings experience, energy and attitude to the defending MCAC champions and a hunger for the game that is second-to-none.

Meanwhile, a true-rookie in Saskatchewan-product Lance Geddes (Moose Jaw, SK) has impressed Dubreuil in training camp. Confident to play either the point or shooting guard position, the 5’10 guard comes to the Pilots from A.E. Peacock High Collegiate where he led the Toilers to a city championship last season, dropping a game-high 20-points in the final.  

“We have a very exciting group of guys playing together this season”, said Dubreuil, when asked to describe his roster, “We were able to strengthen our group with a mix of transfers and freshmen, bringing diversity and depth to our team. Our new players are very dynamic and driven. Alongside a very strong group of returners, I know that they are going to strive early on this season. We are ready to fight to defend our MCAC Championship and compete for a title in our American leagues.”

After starting their competitive season on Saturday and Sunday against the Briercrest Clippers, the Pilots will play a series of exhibition games against the CMU Blazers, Mayville State Comets and Dakota State Trojans before tipping-off against NCCAA opponents, November 10th against the Faith Eagles in Minneapolis. Providence will make their season debut at home in Niverville on November 17th when they play host to the CMU Blazers in a rematch of the 2023 MCAC Final at the CRRC.

Author - Athletics