Rainmen banking on boost from fans

A big, loud crowd would be just what the doctor ordered for the ailing and weary Halifax Rainmen.

The Rainmen host the biggest game in the franchise's five-year history on Wednesday night at 7 p.m., with the London Lightning on the verge of a sweep in the best-of-five National Basketball League of Canada championship series.

It will be Halifax's fifth game in seven days, with its so-called “off-days” occupied with air travel.

“We need the place packed,” said Rainmen owner Andre Levingston. “Our guys need the energy to feed off of. When the crowd is behind you and cheering, you do things that you might not normally do. It rejuvenates you. You forget that you're tired.”

The Rainmen drew an unofficial league-best attendance of 3,260 per game at the Metro Centre this season and have attracted roughly that many fans each season since 2010. But in four playoff games ' one in 2010, another in 2011, and two last week ' they've only averaged around 2,200.

Eight times in franchise history Rainmen crowds have surpassed 4,000, topping out at 4,966 back in 2010.

Levingston calls Wednesday's game the biggest in franchise history and hopes the crowd is the biggest, too.

“We need it,” Levingston said. “The guys' bodies are broke down, they're tired, naturally, from playing so many games in a short period of time, and the crowd is the sixth man. We're anticipating a huge crowd. We hope everybody comes out and supports us.”

London hasn't lost back-to-back games all season and has beaten Halifax in seven-of-eight meetings. On the flip side, the Rainmen have a 17-3 home record, including a dominating 26-point blowout of London on Feb. 19.

“We're looking forward to playing at home,” Levingston said. “It ain't going to be easy playing us in our gym. This series is not over.”

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