Men's basketball team win East Conference Championship

Published: 25 March 2022 at 15:41

Basketball player dribbling the ball while another player performs a defensive move

Anglia Ruskin University men's basketball programme have been crowned the 2021-22 National Basketball League Division Three East Conference Champions.

It follows a convincing 71-56 home win over the University of Hertfordshire Storm in the men's team's final regular season game of the year.

It is the first time in the programme's history that the men's basketball team has won a national title. As a result, the team has qualified for the national play-offs and is eligible to apply for promotion to the National Basketball League Division Two for the 2022-23 season.

Having recently lost to Storm on their previous league game on Saturday 12 March, 93-85, this final regular season game was set to be a contest, with both teams battling for a play-off spot and ARU wanting to clinch their first ever league title.

The game started evenly between the two university sides, as ARU finished the first quarter 20-16 ahead, behind some transition lay-ups from former student Jaylon Braithwaite and athletic point guard Samuel Horváth, despite the accuracy of outside shooting from Storm's Hawes. The home team would then go on to extend their lead in the second quarter off the back of an excellent rebounding performance, going into the locker room at half time with a 43-31 lead.

ARU came out of the blocks strongly in the third quarter with an excellent defensive performance, holding Storm to only eight points in that period. This was further complemented by the interior scoring ability of Finley D'Avilar who would help ARU extend their lead to a 19-point cushion going into the fourth quarter.

Despite Storm's athleticism, tenacity and 17-13 fourth-quarter performance, the teamwork and defensive efforts of ARU were too much for the visitors and the home team secured the league title and place in the national play-offs.

Captain Ben Nailer commented after the game:

"You have to experience good times and bad times in order to achieve a goal. This performance demonstrated incredible courage and determination from the group in order to achieve the programmes long-term goal."

Head Coach Matthew Harber was delighted with the victory and said:

"I'm most happy for the players because they had to work for over seven months for this result. This one was one of our goals we set in September and here we are. They have practised and competed consistently to get to this point, and some of them for more than one season too. It wasn't just about winning this 40 minutes today, for me it was also about winning after the last five years of work here."

ARU qualifies as the #6 seed into the play-offs and will face London Thunder in the first round on Saturday 26 March.