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: