ST. LOUIS – The Lima (Ohio) Express have agreed to join the Midwest Professional Basketball Association for the 2016 season.
The Lima Express were founded in late 2013 by owner Lewis Shine, a former standout guard at Lima Senior High School who played with Wally Szczerbiak for Miami (Ohio) University during its 1998-99 Sweet 16 run. Lima played its first two seasons in the Premier Basketball League.
“We couldn’t be more thrilled to announce the Lima Express as our first-ever expansion team,” said C. Edward “Ed” Schumer, Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer of the MPBA. “They are everything that we look for out of an existing franchise—they’re well-run, they’re well-coached, they’re extremely active in their community, and they’re growing a terrific fan base,” Schumer said.
The Express found success almost immediately, as one of its players, Bryant Austin, earned league Most Valuable Player honors after the franchise’s inaugural season in 2014. Shine also earned league co-Executive of the Year honors following his first year as a team owner.
“I couldn’t be more pleased to join the MPBA for the 2016 season,” Shine said. “We took our time to make sure this was really the right move for us. We looked at it from every angle, we prayed about it, sought counsel from our mentors, and we came to the decision that this was the best fit for where we want to be and for how we want to build our program for the future,” Shine said.
The MPBA completed its inaugural season in April, 2015 with six teams: the Bloomington (Illinois) Flex, Chicago Force, Gateway (St. Louis) Steam, St. Louis RiverSharks, Windy City Groove, and the Champaign Swarm, which won the 2015 MPBA Championship. Additional expansion plans for the 2016 season will be revealed in the coming weeks. The league’s second season begins in January 2016.