4 Things To Know About The MWBA, Canada’s Newest Basketball League

Written By Jose Colorado on June 8, 2022 - Last Updated on July 15, 2022
mwba canada what you need to know

Canada has a new basketball league.

No, it doesn’t feature rapper J.Cole as another Canadian competition, nor does it feature up-and-coming future NBA pros. It’s the Maritime Women’s Basketball Association (MWBA) – and it’s getting rave reviews.

From local teachers turned basketball stars to former national team players, the unique blend of players has drawn an audience already in its inaugural season.

PlayCanada sheds some light on the competition, including women’s basketball betting at online sportsbooks in Canada.

1. MWBA isn’t a professional league – yet

The MWBA doesn’t pay its players.

The only thing covered is road game costs (i.e., hotel, gas and food), which means MWBA players have “real jobs” outside the league. Imagine your local math teacher breaking ankles to a packed house on a Friday night and quizzing your child come Monday.

Well, that’s the MWBA.

While each club features a registered roster, sometimes players cannot fulfill all the team’s obligations. As a result, backup players are called upon. However, the goal is to become a paying league eventually.

An MWBA official told PlayCanada via email:

 “The MWBA is not sprinting toward professionalism at this point. Financial commitments from the industry would be imperative, but not in its present form.”

2. MWBA features top Maritime players

Despite the lack of pay, that hasn’t stopped top-tier talent from flooding into the league. Consider Justin Colley-Leger. She is a former national team member and Saint Mary’s Huskies star currently playing for the Halifax Thunder.

Unsurprisingly, the league caters to Maritime players – both past and present. Although all players with a connection to the Maritimes are welcome to participate in the league. With just six clubs, the barrier of entry is rather high. Players must have a resume or reputation that precedes them. The result is a higher-level product, say the organizers.

One interesting tidbit is the league’s timing. With the MWBA taking place in the summertime, current university/college players can stay in the area and play in the league. Fans can see how the current generation matches up to past university greats in the area.

3. MWBA split between Nova Scotia, New Brunswick

You may have guessed it based on the name, but all MWBA teams are based in the Maritimes. In total, there are six clubs spread across Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

The teams include:

  • Halifax Thunder (Nova Scotia)
  • Halifax Hornets (Nova Scotia)
  • Fredericton Freeze (New Brunswick)
  • Moncton Mystics (New Brunswick)
  • Port City Fog (Nova Scotia)
  • Windsor Edge (Nova Scotia)

Expansion may also be on the horizon. The MWBA spokesperson said:

“We are gauging expansion interest but are not in a hurry. We would like to move into PEI, but will take our time.”

Alongside that, the Antigonish – Truro area is another possibility in Nova Scotia; however, expectations should be tempered as league officials are wary of watering down its product with too many clubs.

If fans are currently interested in checking out the league, the MWBA has a YouTube channel.

4. A long, proud tradition of basketball

At the halfway point of the inaugural season, MWBA officials couldn’t be more thrilled with the fan turnout. Games have been packed. Audiences have been engaged. And, most importantly, there appears to be a market for the product.

For Canadian basketball diehards, the Maritimes has long been known as a hoops-crazed market.

Consider on the male side, another Maritime-specific professional league is already set to launch in 2023. Dubbed the Eastern Canadian Basketball League (ECBL), the competition follows many of the same home-grown principles of the MWBA.

Before that, the Maritimes enjoyed professional basketball through the National Basketball League of Canada (NBLC).

One of the teams in that league – the St. John’s Edge – became so big it was able to attract former NBA players. Those names included hometown hero Carl English (signed by Seattle Supersonics) and Glen Davis (former NBA champion).

All in all, then, the MWBA seems to be in the right place moving forward.

Canada sportsbooks and women’s pro ball

When it comes to punters enjoying women’s professional basketball in the betting world, the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) is the only option.

Luckily, all the top legal Ontario sportsbooks let you bet on the WNBA, including:

  • Bet365
  • BetMGM
  • BetRivers
  • Caesars
  • DraftKings
  • PointsBet
  • Unibet

Granted, there are not many options.

Currently, the only markets available for bettors are the WNBA outright winners (championship-winning team) or game lines (single event game betting).

Bet365 Canada is an exception; the platform offers some international women’s basketball odds. Meanwhile, Unibet Canada and BetRivers Canada have WNBA MVP odds in addition to its championship odds.

A’ja Wilson of the Las Vegas Aces is the consensus favourite, in case you were wondering. Both sportsbooks have her odds pegged at +100 (American odds) and 2.00 (European odds). Breanna Stewart (Seattle Storm) is next up at +600, 7.00.

MWBA schedule 2022

June 113 p.m.Fredericton vs. Halifax ThunderMoncton’s Harrison Trimble High School
June 115 p.m.Moncton vs. WindsorMoncton’s Harrison Trimble High School
June 117 p.m.Port City vs. Halifax HornetsMoncton’s Harrison Trimble High School
June 1211 a.m.Fredericton vs. WindsorMoncton’s Harrison Trimble High School
June 121 p.m.Port City vs. Halifax ThunderMoncton’s Harrison Trimble High School
June 163 p.m.Moncton vs. Halifax HornetsMoncton’s Harrison Trimble High School
June 167:30 p.m.Fredericton at Moncton Moncton’s Harrison Trimble High School
June 167 p.m.Halifax Thunder at WindsorKES
June 182 p.m.Halifax Hornets at WindsorKES
June 192 p.m.Moncton at FrederictonLeo Hayes High School
June 24-26TBDNB v NB Matchups (Quarter-finals, Semifinals, Championship)Saint Mary’s University in Halifax

When will MWBA become a pro league?

Canada only has one domestic professional basketball league (officially).

Interestingly enough, Canada basketball does feature a professional (paying) league for men called the Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL). Yet it is the women’s national team who has fared much better in international competitions. Currently, the women’s league is ranked No. 4 in the world. The men are No. 18.

And while the MWBA may not be in a rush to professionalize, the CEBL is. In fact, the competition is the only league in the country certified by FIBA – the international governing body of basketball.

That’s important.

Sportsbooks usually only recognize such leagues when it comes to international basketball markets. Despite that, none of the major operators in Ontario have opened up WNBA betting on the competition yet. But they offer markets on other international and domestic leagues throughout the world.

It will be interesting to see if a CEBL market opens up. Meanwhile, however, basketball fans will have to get their fix with the MWBA competition.

Not a bad compromise.

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Jose Colorado

Jose Colorado is a British Columbia-based writer. He lives in Burnaby and loves sports, anime, writing, business and the occasional walk on the beach.

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