World Club Basketball Tournament
The Summerfields Leisure Centre played host to some excellent basketball action over the weekend of the Friday 8th, 9th & Sunday 10th September, when the Bexhill Giants Basketball Club organised World Club Basketball Tournament returned for the third consecutive year an welcomed 10 teams to the seaside town of Hastings.
The three day festival of basketball opened with an exhibition match at the Bexhill Leisure Centre when the ABA Toronto Knights and the Argyle Kings (England), which was followed by well attended youth coaching session hosted by the Canadian team , making their second consecutive visit to compete in the World Club Basketball Tournament (WCBT).
The aim of the tournament was to raise the profile of UK basketball by introducing high calibre teams into a competitive tournament free of charge to spectators, to promote the sport to new fans. In addition to raise funds and awareness for the charity partner Kidney Research UK.
The ten competing teams USAF Lakenheath Eagles, New York Court Kings, & USA Select of (USA), Howard Hoops & Team Beastmode of (Germany), Argyle Kings, Coventry Tornadoes (England), Ball in the UK (United Kingdom) and London Patriots (Poland/ England) and the aforementioned ABA Toronto Knights. The teams were split into two groups of five teams with the top two teams in each group progressing to the ‘A’ Semi Finals and positions three and four progressing to the ‘B’ Semi Finals , and the fifth placed teams competing in the Kidney Research Plate match.
Day 1 - Group Matches
The tournament was opened by the Mayor of Hastings, Councilor Judge Judy Rogers then it was straight into the action with the first round match in Group A which saw the impressive New York Court Kings defeat a spirited Argyle Kings Team 60 -34. Group B saw a well drilled ABA Toronto Knights defeat the highly energetic ‘Ball In The UK’ 52- 34.
Next up in Group A Howard Hoops, the German team which included a number of experienced USA players, won an exciting against Coventry Tornadoes which went to overtime 47-46 , and in Group B USAF Lakenheath defeated the resilient London Patriots 38- 33 in a battling confrontation.
Game 3 in Group A, of the saw the two time defending champions USA Select enter the tournament against the New York Court Kings, with their small squad of 6 players. On paper this should have been a win for the Select side, however the Kings showed their quality and came out with the surprising victory 46-39, and show their title potential. Group ‘B’ saw the ABA Toronto Knights, continue their good form with a convincing 53- 30 win against Team Beastmode of Germany.
Game 4 of Group A, saw the Coventry Tornadoes and Argyle Kings looking for their first wins in the tournament, and it was the Tornadoes who came out on top with a 47-33 win. While in Group B the London Patriots recorded their first win, with a close fought 42- 37 victory against Ball in the UK.
USA Select came out strongly with all intentions to avoid a second defeat against Howard Hoops, and they ground out a hard fought 36-31, to get their first win of the event. Group B also saw Team Beastmode obtain an impressive 47-41 win against USAF Lakenheath to stamp their mark on the tournament.
In Group A & B both New York Court Kings and ABA Toronto Knights, continued their impressive runs and maintained the unbeaten records with wins against Coventry Tornadoes and London Patriots respectively, to confirm their positions in the ‘A’ Final.
The battle to join the New York Court Kings and Knights in the ‘A’ Final was now in place as the Howard Hoops won their second consecutive match of the day in Group ‘A’ , but consigned the Argyle Kings to their third defeat of the day with a 35-28 win.
‘Ball In the UK’ were looking for their first win in Group B against the experienced USAF Lakenheath, but unfortunately their wait would go on as the USAF Lakenheath team inflicted their third consecutive defeat, winning a close fought battle 38 – 32.
The Final matches in Group ‘A’ would see wins for New York Court Kings, which saw them move into the A semi-final topping the group with a 4-0 , along with USA Select who finished in second place with a 3-1 record. Coventry Tornadoes & Howards Hoops finished third and fourth respectively, with the valiant Argyle Kings finishing in fifth place.
Group B was more of a close affair with the ABA Toronto Knights being pushed all the way by USAF Lakenheath, before winning 28-26 in overtime, and moving into the ‘A’ semi- final unbeaten to face USA Select. Despite the loss Lakenheath also moved into the ‘A’ semi Final to face the impressive New York Court Kings.
With two wins out of the four matches Howard Hoops progressed to the ‘B’ semi -final to face Beastmode, while Coventry Tornadoes and the London Patriots would face of in the corresponding fixture.
The Argyle Kings and ‘Ball In The UK’ would play for the Kidney Research Plate with both teams looking for their first win of the tournament.
Day 2 of the tournament saw a free youth coaching clinic day start the day off with USA Select and Eastbourne Lions coaches running the session and putting the grateful youngsters through their paces.
A Semi Finals
Then it was onto the action with the ‘A’ Semi Finals taking place on the show court on day 2 of the tournament. First up was impressive New York Court Kings versus USAF Lakenheath. With Lakenheath having a full 12 man squad leaving seven substitutes on the bench to come in at any time , against the Kings one option , it looked as though the Kings would not have the depth to sustain the challenge. But yet again they defied the odds with some impressive outside shooting from Guards Jarrick Bowe and Niko Spalding , and tough defence from Irving Moses and Jalomor Ryan, the Kings reached the ‘A’ Final with a 40-29 win.
The second ‘A’ Semi Final was a repeat of the 2016 matchup between ABA Toronto Knights and USA Select, and the Canadian side were looking for revenge following that defeat. The match was played at a frenetic pace as the sides traded baskets in a keenly contested before USA Select, went on a 10-0 run to take 31-21 lead and look odds on to make their third consecutive final. However the Knights were not intending to go without a fight as their Point Guard Ian Berry went on a one man run scoring with 11points in three minutes, to leave them trailing 35-36.With two seconds on the clock Berry was fouled going for a drive and made the two free throws to send the Knights to the Final, and ensure a new name would be on the WCBT winners trophy.
‘B’ Semi Finals
The B semi-finals saw the English National League team Coventry Tornadoes overcome the strong London Patriots team in a match closer than the 31-25 score line suggests , while Howard Hoops easily dispatched of their German counterparts Team Beastmode 58- 38 to ensure two teams from Group ‘A’ made it to the ‘B’ Final.
Kidney Research Plate Final.
First final of the day saw the Argyle Kings and Ball in The UK play out and exciting high scoring match which saw the Kings, overcome their rivals 53-52 after overtime.
Coventry Tornadoes came in to the match looking to avenge their defeat to Howard Hoops in the group stage, and came out firing on all cylinders with their star player J. Oscar scoring at will with strong drives to the basketball. The teams traded baskets all through the match, but it was the Tornadoes who held on to win 39-34 and become the WCBT ‘B’ Champions.
The last match of the day, the A Final saw the two teams. Both teams showed why had progressed to the final with unbeaten records playing slick, intelligent, controlled basketball. The teams went toe to toe providing the impressive crowd with a fantastic exhibition. However in the closing minutes the deeper squad of the ABA Toronto Knights were able to take control of the game in the closing stages against the tiring and courageous New Court Kings to run out winners 40-27 and become the World Club Basketball Tournament Champions of 2017..
Event organiser and Bexhill Giants Chairman Eric Douglin said “I was overwhelmed at how well the tournament went and the standard of play the teams brought to the event increases every year. All of the teams were of the highest standard and I was privileged to have them take part in the events Bexhill and Hastings. The tournament, the largest international event of its kind in the UK, has gained the worldwide media recognition and we have already received entries for next year’s event”
The Bexhill Giants would like to thank the following sponsors and partners Kidney Research UK , Always Ballin Brand, Hoop Freakz, Lions Club of Hastings , Spark, Martin Webb Photography , Serge World Media , Vic’s Transport , LRD Photography , Basketball Breaks, Julia Summers Sports Photography, Freedom Leisure , Engage Media CDMAV Photography and Kaleidodesign Print and Signs.