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World Club Basketball Tournament 2018 Report
The Summerfields Leisure Centre played host to some excellent basketball action over the weekend of the 8th & 9th September, when the Bexhill Giants Basketball Club hosted their annual World Club Basketball Tournament & welcomed eight teams to the seaside town of Hastings.
This was the fourth annual event to be held in the town and was opened the President of the Lions Club of Hastings Lord Brett Mclean, who welcomed the teams to the town and wished them well during the tournament.
The objective of the tournament was to raise the profile of UK basketball by introducing high calibre teams into a competitive tournament and to promote the sport to new fans. In addition to raise funds and awareness for the charity partner Kidney Research UK, after the organizer Eric Douglin received a kidney from his wife in 2010.
The growth of the tournament has seen team from afar as Tanzania, Australia, India and New Zealand enquire about competing in the tournament and has attracted media attention globally.
The eight competing teams USAF Lakenheath Eagles, New York Court Kings, Las Vegas Unknown & Chicago Legends of the USA, faced off against London Patriots (Poland) Argyle Kings & Sussex Lions (England) and the Wales Senior National team. The teams were split into two groups of four 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.
Group 1: USAF Lakenheath, Wales National Team, Sussex Lions, New York Court Kings.
Group 2: London Patriots, Las Vegas Unknown, Chicago Legends, Argyle King.
Day 1 - Group Matches
following the opening ceremony which was streamed worldwide it was straight into the action straight into the action with the first-round match in Group 1 which saw the local side Sussex Lions open up with impressive win 38- 37 win against USAF Lakenheath. Next up was New York Court Kings who had returned to Hastings following their defeat in the who reached the final at WCBT 2017 defeated a spirited Wales National Team 66-31. Group 2 saw a well drilled the early tournament favorites Las Vegas Unknown record a straightforward victory against 57- 21 victory over Poland’s London Patriots, while the Argyle Kings defeated the USA’s Chicago Legends by 40 -30.
The round two of matches saw the Group ‘1’ unbeaten sides come up against each other and it was the New York Court Kings who came out on top against Sussex Lions by a score of 49-41, while USAF Lakenheath defeated Wales 46-41 in an overtime thriller. In Group ‘2’ the exciting Las Vegas Unknown defeated the Argyle Kings 52-25, and London Patriots recorded their first win defeating the Chicago Legends 37-31 to leave the USA team without a win.
New York Court Kings & Sussex Lions both finished Group 1 with victories over USAF Lakenheath & Wales respectively to leave New York Court Kings top of the Group with a 100% record and Sussex Lions in second. USAF Lakenheath finished third and the Wales National Team bringing up the rear in fourth place.
Group 2 saw Las Vegas Unknown showing their class to top Group 1 with a 55-29 win over the Chicago Legends who finished bottom of the group with no wins, while the Argyle Kings continued their good form to defeat the London Patriots 33-26 to take second place in the table and push the Polish team into third place, leaving the Kings to move into the ‘A’ semifinal and the Patriots into the ‘B’ semifinal.
Day 2 of the tournament saw a free youth coaching clinic day start the day off with the WCBT 2017 Champions ABA Toronto Knights coaches running the session and putting the grateful youngsters through their paces. Each participant then received some great gifts from the Knights for taking part in the session.
B Semi Finals
Then it was onto the action with the B Semi Finals taking place on the show court. First up was Chicago Legends , looking for their first win of the tournament facing up to the USAF Lakenheath team, which narrowly missed out on the ‘A’ Final . The match was played at a frenetic pace as the sides traded baskets in a keenly contested but the USAF Lakenheath team progressed to the final with a narrow 28-27 victory.
The second Semi Final saw the Wales National Team who were defeated in all three of their group matches face the London Patriots side which included high calibre Polish and Lithuanian players. Yet again the exciting match had the crowd on their feet, until the final seconds when, but it was the Wales team who progressed recording their first win of the tournament with a 22-19 victory.
‘A’ Semi Finals
One team with a point to prove were last year’s beaten finalist New York Court Kings and they came out with all guns blazing against the depleted Argyle Kings who were missing key players going into this semifinal. The early stages were a close affair , but it was the New York side which won the battle of the Kings with a comprehensive 52-27 victory.
Next up was the local side Sussex Lions, which included last year’s MVP Ian Berry and BBL player Sam Toulouse’, but they were no match for the focused Las Vegas Unknown team who produced an excellent display of team basketball and accurate shooting, behind their star Tony Eackles Jnr , as the US team ran out 41-25 winners to make it an all American Final.
The Wales National Team , who were using the tournament as preparation for the European Forces Championship in 2016, came into the ‘B’ Final as slight favorites against a USAF Lakenheath time which was playing together for the first time competitively. However the form book went out of the window as the Wales came out all guns blazing and opened up with a 10-2 run, however USAF rallied and reduced the deficit to take the lead in a close fought contest, which went to the wire with USAF running out winners 34-32, to take the ‘B’ Final.
The last match of the day, the ‘A’ Final saw the two teams on their respective European tours face up , New York Court Kings and Las Vegas Unknown. Both teams showed why had progressed to the final 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 Las Vegas Unknown were able to take control of the game in the closing stages against the tiring Kings to run out winners 56-51 and become the World Club Basketball Tournament Champions for 2018.
Event organizer 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. All of the teams were of the highest standard and I was privileged to have them take part in the event in the town. The tournament is growing from strength to strength and is being recongnised around the world as one of the premier events to compete in. I would like to thank our sponsors Lions Club of Hastings, Maw Sports, Ballers Heaven and Kidney Research UK”