After making history as the first prep school program to compete professionally, Quebec City becomes basketball proving ground for experienced pros and young players on the rise.
Quebec City, Quebec, Canada — Consider this expansion season in The Basketball League for Academie Alma “on the job training” for the young men taking the court for Head Coach David Petroziello.
They’ll lose some. They’ll win some. They’ll learn basketball life-lessons beyond measure in and out of the game. And during this historic first TBL season by becoming the first North American prep school program to compete in a pro league, guys with pro experience on the team will be heavily relied upon to elevate the ability of the kids on the come-up in Quebec City. That’s key to building a successful program with staying power compared to lighting the pipe dream that burns people out.
Take last weekend’s opening two-game series against the Albany Patroons at Seminaire Saint-Francois for starters. Two teams on different ends of the spectrum when it comes to basketball history. The Patroons’ legacy speaks for itself, while the upstart Academie Alma are striving to make their own milestone moments simply by stepping on the court for the first time in Canada. The scoreboard didn’t tilt in Alma’s favor by dropping both games – 113 to 83 and 101 to 82 – but there’s more to takeaway from the two games than just the final results.
Quebec City native and 6’9 center Marc-André Fortin, who previously played in Germany with Bayer Leverkusen, showed out versus the Patroons by finishing with 18 points and 10 rebounds in Game 1 and 20 points and 16 rebounds in Game 2.
Former University of British Columbia standout guard, Lansana Nwosu, went for 14 points, 7 rebounds, and 8 assists in Game 1 and 20 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 assists in Game 2.
Alexandre Leclerc also put together two strong outings versus Albany: 22 points and 6 rebounds in Game 1 and 16 points and 2 rebounds in Game 2.
After spending this week heading back to the drawing board, Academie Alma and Head Coach David Petroziello now shift their focus to tackling a daunting upcoming TBL schedule that includes the next six games on the road starting this weekend with Lehigh Valley Legends on Saturday and the Reading Rebels on Sunday. Until then, Coach Petroziello took time to reflect on his biggest takeaways from the season opening series against Albany, the growth of his young team in a short period of time, and the importance of his older players investing in helping the younger guys level up to begin their professional playing careers.
On the team’s first two-game series of the season against the Albany Patroons
I felt we were right there with them, in game two on Sunday in particular. Gettable gap there. I think we competed well both days, the same things that sink teams sunk ours that weekend. Turnovers, missed assignments, and some stagnant offensive patches. We added some guys this past week so our chemistry is getting better everyday. We will continue to play the right way and compete.
On having the start of the ‘23 TBL season officially in the books
I expect to compete no matter the situation or expectation, we always compete to win. No one laces up for moral victories and I don’t coach for them either. That said I recognize it’s a positive for the first games to be competitive and not be a situation where we were overwhelmed by the moment or the challenge. Credit to Albany, they’re really good and well coached with a well balanced roster. That helps to set the bar for where the level of play is that we need to be at.
On the team coming together over the last couple of months
For a project like this to work we need the older guys to show the young high level prospects what it means and what it takes to be a high level. Take Luka Dončić for example – Luka was a pro at 15-years old (with Union Olimpija in Slovenia) but it wasn’t his season of games alone that got him to where he is, it was the daily battles and mentoring of the older guys that he experienced every day in practice, in the locker room, in huddles and on the road etc.
On the early season maturation of Marc André Fortin
Marc André brings that for us – showing the younger guys. He’s really good, I think he’s a dozen points better than what he was opening weekend, and half a dozen rebounds better as well. Great leader, unselfish teammate, and a heck of a player. I think we can get some things out of him he doesn’t realize he has yet, and growing his game further shows the young guys what type of adaptability and growth it takes to make it in this game.
On what Lansana Nwosu and Alexandre Leclerc brings to Academie Alma
Lansana was a warrior against Albany. Guarded tough, rebounded well and generally took care of the ball. His inexperience at the pro level showed with some things but early returns are positive. Alex as well – very dynamic player with great leadership skills and energy. It was also awesome to see the young prep guys go out and hold their own for stretches. That’s what it’s all about, getting these young guys that exposure to the strength, skill, and complexity of the pro game at a young age. Day 1 to Day 2 they were already better and that bodes well I think for the rest of the season as a group as well as beyond for them individually.
Wendell Maxey is the author of Around The Basketball League and has written about professional basketball and sports for 19 years. He’s been featured on NBA.com, ESPN.com, USA Today, FOX Sports, and SLAM Magazine among other publications and media outlets. You can connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn or read through his archive on Linktree.