Last Saturday night, Team Newcastle men’s basketball team took home their fourth win of the season - putting them in second place in their division.
They got off to an early lead against their opponent, the Bristol Hurricanes, and maintained it until the final buzzer sounded … ending with a final score of 92-79.
Leading the team with 28 points was guard Tom Horvat, a first-year master’s student from Cranston, Rhode Island, USA. Horvat contributed 25 of the team’s 52 first-half points.
Team Newcastle is in the Division Two National Basketball League (NBL) and is headed up by coach, Mark Elderkin, and assisted by coach, Josh Szymanis.
Apart from Newcastle’s national league, which has been in existence for six years, Newcastle also participates in the British Universities and College Sports (BUCS) leagues and commits two teams to this.
As guard Horvat said, “We practice together as one team but it’s two different teams.”
The NBL is allowed to have one American on each team, but the BUCS allow for a larger number of foreign talent on their roster.
The BUCS were the champions of their division last year with a record of 8-1. This season, they are playing in Division Two for the first time in their history.
Foreign students are often on one-year programs, so the turnaround in players is on an annual basis.
Coach Szymanis commented, “Six or seven foreign scholars come in every year and recycle. We try to keep five or six British guys that are part of the three or four years at uni.”
Other notable contributions throughout the game were guard, Kabengele’s, 21 points and centre, Urli’s, multiple rebounds.
The team focused heavily on creating space and waiting for good shot selections, but when Bristol’s defense stiffened, and began to put the pressure on, they looked inside for a quick hand off where they attacked the rim … drawing fouls from the opposing side.
The Hurricanes closed the deficit down to seven points during the third quarter, but Newcastle regained the momentum and finished the game off strong.
Tom Horvat said, “We didn’t play a perfect game by any means, but we came together when they started to come back and played hard.”
The NBL games are played on Saturday evenings and the BUCS games are played on Wednesday evenings.
Team Newcastle’s next home game will be against the Derbyshire Spartans at 19:00 on the 16th of November. All their home games are played at Newcastle University’s Sports Centre.