World Club Basketball Tournament comes to Hastings and Bexhill

Paul Wilson of Ibaes Sports, the Wolfpack Captain, and World Club Basketball Tournament founder Eric Doughlin. Picture by Web Photo UK Photography
Paul Wilson of Ibaes Sports, the Wolfpack Captain, and World Club Basketball Tournament founder Eric Doughlin. Picture by Web Photo UK Photography

The Summerfields Leisure Centre played host to some excellent basketball action over the weekend of September 7 and 8, when the Bexhill Giants Basketball Club hosted their annual World Club Basketball Tournament and welcomed eight teams to the seaside town of Hastings.

This was the fifth annual event to be held in the town and was opened by the Mayor of Hastings Councillor Sidwell and MP for Hastings Amber Rudd, 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 funds and awareness were raised for the charity partner Kidney Research UK, after the organiser Eric Douglin received a kidney from his wife in 2010.

The growth of the tournament has seen team from afar as Australia, India and New Zealand enquire about competing in the tournament and has attracted media attention globally.

The eight competing teams were; USAF Lakenheath Eagles, Hoop Goon and Kitsap Admirals (USA), London Patriots (Poland), Argyle Kings and Westminster Warriors (UK), Wolfpack (Denmark) and Kingz of Kongo (Democratic Republic of Congo)

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.

After an exciting and tense first day of action, the Kitsap Admirals and Kingz of Kongo progressed to the 'A' semi-finals as group winners, both teams with 100 per cent records after three matches.

They were joined by Wolfpack Denmark and Westminster Warriors in the ‘A’ semi-finals as runners-up in their respective groups.

The ‘B’ semi-finals for the third and fourth-placed teams in their groups would be contested by USAF Lakenheath, Argyle Kings, London Patriots and Hoop Goon. All matches were to be played on day two of the tournament.

Before the day two action was underway, the Kitsap Admirals hosted a youth coaching clinic which was attended by over 40 local youngsters, who received the unique experience of being coached by overseas stars.

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Then it was onto the action of the ‘B’ semi-finals, which saw the 2018 ‘B’ champions USAF Lakenheath defeat Argyle Kings, to reach their second consecutive final. The London Patriots won a close fought match against Hoop Goon.

With the excitement of the day building and the crowd growing, the ‘A’ semi-finals lived up to their billing and produced a couple of surprises.

The Wolfpack showed their undoubted skill and talent against the well-travelled and experienced Kingz, to pull off a surprised 36-22 win. The Kitsap Admirals defeated the last remaining Westminster Warriors 46-36, which meant both teams from Group A would progress to the ‘A’ Finals.

USAF Lakenheath, who were using the tournament as preparation for their Forces Championship in 2019, came into the ‘B’ Final as slight favourites, having already defeating the London Patriots in the group stage, and this proved to be the case again with the Air Force side edging out the Polish team 42-35 , to retain their title.

The last match of the day, the ‘A’ Final saw the two teams from Group A face up again, with the Wolfpack of Denmark looking to avenge their earlier defeat. The first few minutes saw the teams exchange baskets, with both teams looking to claim their first WCBT title.

However, it was the tough defensive work of the Danes, which saw them restrict the shooting of the Admirals, and the Wolfpack run out winners 52-47.

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.

"All of the teams were of the highest standard and I was privileged to have them take part in the event in the town.

"Every year the WCBT grows from strength to strength and we are inundated with teams looking to take part and visit Hastings, bringing tourism and exposure to the town.

"It's also great that we can raise funds and awareness for Kidney Research UK through sport . We could not achiveve this without our sponsors Ibanes Sports, Always Ballin, Chain Net Apparel, Dbl. DBBL, Vic’s Transport & Astral Lodge Hotel."