Team Newcastle’s BUCS second team continue to outperform expectations, adding a league/ cup double to their growing list of achievements.
After promotion last season into BUCS Northern 3B and with multiple key players leaving, it initially looked like the Knights could be in for a tough year. However, a combination of ambitious new players and steady veterans has propelled them to the top of this new division. The team finished as champions with an 8-1 record and will play in the 2nd Division in 2019/20 for the first time in their history.
The team also competed in the Northern Conference Cup, a competition in which they have never previously progressed past the last 16 stage. Hard-fought wins against Bradford 1st and Leeds 1st (both placed in Division 2) set up a semi-final derby against Sunderland 1st. After suffering their only league defeat of the year to them 4 weeks earlier, the players came out extremely motivated, eventually running out 90-64 winners. Sunderland had no answer for some strong finishing and shooting from forward Oscar Sanchez, who finished with 36 points.
The final pitted the Knights against Bolton 1st, an experienced team led by a former BBL (professional) player. The game was characterised by both teams making strong runs, with Newcastle having to rely on efficient outside shooting from Adria Estany Roura (23 points) and Oscar Sanchez (24 points) to stay in the game. Team Newcastle finally found some breathing room after two 3-point shots from Center Georgios Karatzas opened up a 56-48 lead. From there, captain Daniel Casado Serra put on an inspired defensive display to take Bolton’s best scoring threat out of the game and see the Knights through to a 70-64 win.
The results mark a successful debut season for Player-Coach Josh Szymanis, who had this to say:
"We started this season with a new, young squad and a new style of play for them all to adapt to. We had to play the majority of our games against other university 1st teams, with some of them in higher divisions than us. We had plenty of reasons to not be successful but this group has sacrificed for the team and for each other at every turn and fully deserve everything they've achieved."
3rd year Captain Daniel Casado Serra, set to graduate this summer after 4 years with the club, added:
“In the 4 years I have been part of this team, I have never seen teamwork at the same level as shown on the court this season. It would be very difficult for me to single out any individual player. I am proud to graduate knowing there are still great things to come for the Knights.”
Highlights of the team’s season can be found below:
The 2016/17 season has brought both ups and downs for a new look Newcastle University roster. An entirely new BUCS team and a rotating door of players in NBL always meant there would be an element of inconsistency this season. Despite the adversity and difficulties the Knights have continued to march forward, set new standards and achieved what the club always strived for. With the NBL play-offs still to take place much of the season is now over. Here is a review of the 2016/17 so far but no doubt the play-offs will bring more excitement, turns and twists.
Newcastle University Men's team competed in their debut season in BUCS Premiership North which hosts a number of great University Basketball powerhouses, despite this the new class of players fought hard to finish in 4th position in the Premiership North and battle their way into the Final Fours. After beating Brunel in the Final 16's and beating the number 1 South seed, UEL, with a tip in from young Undergraduate Alei Wol, in their first ever BUCS Super 8 quarter final. The Knights fought hard on day 2 in their Semi-Final versus a strong Durham University team but fell short and their journey ended despite outstanding performances from Richard Austin and Irving Eggleston. Although it was disappointing to lose, the Knights accomplished something no other Newcastle University Basketball team has for a long time and that is to finish top 4 in the Nation.
Team Newcastle University also had their opening debut season in NBL Division 2. After back to back promotions from NBL Division 4 and Division 3 the Knights had a good momentum going into a very strong league with some really well established clubs. Newcastle finished with a 19-3 record but finished behind Kent Crusaders on a head to head of 3 points. The league came down to the final game of the season as Team Newcastle hosted Kent but lost 67-71 despite an inspiring point guard performance from Romonn Nelson who has went from strength to strength since signing in September. This meant Newcastle finished runners up in NBL Division 2, sealing their third successive promotion this time to NBL Division 1. Earlier in the season the Knights had picked up their 3rd National Cup in 3 years after beating Kent in the final of the Patrons Cup, 77-65, with Richard Austin picking up the finals MVP.
Team Newcastle University start their play-off campaign this Sunday (2nd April) against local rivals Tees Valley Mohawks, come along and support the Knights at Queens Campus, Durham University, Tip off 3pm. All support is welcome as the Knights will look to finish the season on a high in the NBL Division 2 play-offs.
Team Newcastle's 2016 was a great one, winning the BUCS National Trophy, NBL Division 3 North and sealing promotions to BUCS Premiership and NBL Division 2. It also saw Chuck Duru, Tayo Oyefusi, Jack Beresford, George Beard, Prince Lartey, Alex Sfikas, Charlie Wallrapp, Robbie Lemons and Nathan Ensz graduate alongside Ben Chicken picking up a great work placement opportunity for the 2016/17 season. This meant that the 2016/17 season was going to be a one of change and challenges, with both, new leagues and new personnel the gauntlet was set but so far the Knights have exceeded expectations.
The Knights currently sit 4th in BUCS Premiership North with a 3-5 record and have sealed a BUCS Premiership place next year and have put themselves in a position where they will have a home final 16 draw. Team Newcastle University are also 4th in NBL Division 2 with a 7-2 record and have qualified for the Patron's Cup Semi-Final. The Knights return for training this Thursday and take on a tough Liverpool side at Liverpool on the 7th January in NBL Division 2.
You can check out our 2016/17 mid season highlights via YouTube:
The Knights have finished the regular season with the BUCS National Trophy, BUCS Division 1 North and NBL Division 3 North all in Newcastle University's trophy cabinet with the playoffs still to come. The BUCS Premiership Promotion Playoffs begin on the 13th April where they will take on Leeds Beckett University. The NBL Playoffs begin on the 2nd April against Team Solent at home due to the Knights finishing top of the league and qualifying for home games till the Final.
Newcastle University Knights finished the BUCS season with a perfect 10-0 record and no team really coming close to competing with the Knights in their Division. The league win meant that the Knights have won BUCS Division 1 for the third time during Coach Hewitt's tenure but still have yet to gain that valuable promotion to the Premiership. This season could be very different with the fire power demonstrated throughout the League and Trophy campaign. Four teams will compete for the spot in the Premiership, Leeds Becket University, Edinburgh University, Derby University and Newcastle University. The Knights have already slayed Edinburgh and Derby to go on to win the BUCS Trophy and have yet to put out a full strength squad, which is what makes the Promotion Playoffs so exciting. Newcastle picked up their second piece of silverware in BUCS after beating UWE at Ponds Forge on the 16th March with a comfortable 78-55 win in the Final.
Team Newcastle University have fought through constant injuries to come out on top with a 19-1 league record making them NBL Division 3 North Champions. The Knights only had one loss, right at the very death of the regular season, however, the Knights have been unbeaten in 39 league games before that and certainly made a name for themselves since joining the National League. Back to back promotions mean that the Knights will be competing in NBL Division 2 next year and will hope to continue their success since joining the NBL. Team Newcastle were unable to defend their National Shield title after losing out to Oxford Brookes in the Semi-Final by 1 point. The Quarter-Final of the NBL Division 3 Playoffs take place on the 2nd April, tip off is at 6pm and the game takes place at Sports Central against a very talented Team Solent.
Please come and support the Knights in the post season and keep informed by following us on Twitter and Facebook via the links on this website. Team Newcastle University Basketball Club would also like to thank their supporters, players and partners including sponsors Bigfoot Basketball, Basketball Megastore and Always Ballin.