Saskatchewan Rattlers to host CEBL's first championship weekend in August

It may be only four games into the season, but the Saskatchewan Rattlers have already guaranteed themselves a spot in the Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) playoffs.

That's because the CEBL announced Tuesday that Saskatoon will play host to the league's inaugural championship weekend Aug. 22-25.

The top four teams in the six-team league will make the playoffs, with the host Rattlers being guaranteed one of those spots.

CEBL Commissioner/CEO Mike Morreale said Saskatoon has done a great job when it comes to major sports events in the past.

"We knew coming out of the gate as a brand new league and a brand new team that this market was open to engaging with new teams and new franchises," Morreale said.

He said Saskatoon was high on the list from the beginning to host the league's first championship.

Saskatchewan Rattlers/Twitter

There were conversations with other CEBL markets, but Saskatoon was the best fit.

"It's an opportunity to be in a market that appreciates good entertainment and good sports, and then to give something a little back to them and that was the reason why we did it," Morreale said.

The four-day event begins on Thursday, Aug. 22 with an awards banquet, followed by a three-day street festival downtown that will include everything from youth basketball showcase to player appearances and musical acts.

The semi-finals will be played on Saturday, Aug. 24, and the final the following day at SaskTel Centre.

Morreale, a former CFL players, said he took a page from his experience playing and attending Grey Cups.

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"I took the Grey Cup model and just kind of modified it — made it a little bit tighter and more concise, understanding that we don't have the followers that the CFL does at this point," he said. "But we wanted to provide that level of entertainment and programming where people would be impressed."

Rattlers president Lee Genier said it is fitting the team is hosting the final since the team also hosted the CEBL's first game.

The Rattlers are off to a quick start leading the league with a 3-1 record.

Genier is confident the team will earn its way into the playoffs without having to rely on being the host team.

"The team looks incredible right now so we just have to keep that pace up."