Huge success for second Basketball Hall of Fame Belfast Classic as Buffalo Bulls come out on top

After a memorable sporting weekend for Northern Ireland, the Basketball Hall of Fame Belfast Classic came to a tense close at Belfast’s SSE Arena on Saturday evening as University at Buffalo took on San Francisco University in a championship game which kept fans guessing until the end. Thousands of basketball fans and enthusiasts from across Ireland, Britain and further afield were treated to a whopper of a finale as University at Buffalo defeated University of San Francisco with a score of 85 – 81 in the Goliath Bracket Championship Game.

The final day of competition got off to an exciting start with the Goliath Bracket Finals Consolation Game which saw University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee and Stephen F Austin State University take to the court providing fans with two tense halves of gameplay which resulted in a Stephen F Austin Lumberjacks victory of 66 against Milwaukee Panthers’ 51 points and placing third in their bracket.

Concluding gameplay today in the Goliath Finals Championship Game was University at Buffalo and University of San Francisco, who took to the court in front of an electric crowd of over 5,000 spectators at Belfast’s SSE Arena this afternoon. The game was full of heart-racing action which resulted in The Buffalo Bulls claiming the second Belfast Classic Cup, by only four points, retaining their undefeated record for 2018.

Sharing his thoughts on his team’s success and reflecting back on his time in Northern Ireland, head coach Nate Oats said, “It was a great win for us against a quality team. San Francisco is probably the second-best team in a really good league in the West Coast Conference, so for us to be able to get them on neutral floor like that and get a good quality win is huge for our programme.”

Speaking about his team’s experience at the Belfast Classic Coach Oats added, “This crowd is by far the best crowd in an EMT we’ve been in. Getting all the [primary school] kids in on a Friday when the adults are in work is an unbelievable idea, I thought it was awesome.  Even better that we got to visit the schools and then they were at the games.

“The guys running this tournament are doing it at a really high level. I thought the crowd was great, the arena was awesome, the hospitality’s been great and the city is awesome. We can only do tournaments like this every four years, but I’d jump at coming back to Belfast in four years.”

The three-day NCAA competitive collegiate basketball tournament featured teams from eight well-known sporting universities from the USA including University at Albany; University at Buffalo; Dartmouth College; LIU Brooklyn; Marist College; University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee; University of San Francisco; and Stephen F. Austin State University and attracted thousands of basketball fans from around the world.

Now in its second year, the Belfast Classic was brought to Northern Ireland through a partnership with the Sport Changes Life Foundation, Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and the Metro Athletic Conference (MAAC).

Marc Mulholland, Executive Director of the Basketball Hall of Fame Belfast Classic added, “I am delighted that this year’s Basketball Hall of Fame Belfast Classic was such a huge success once again! It was with immense pride that we were able to double the size of the Belfast Classic for 2018 and bring the tournament back to Northern Ireland for its second year. As expected, the basketball was of the highest level and was thoroughly enjoyed by all of those from across the world who travelled to Belfast to watch it live. We are so proud to have welcomed over 14,000 spectators over the duration of the tournament. Finally, we would like to extend our congratulations to Samson Bracket winners Marist College and Goliath Bracket champions University at Buffalo - and of course to all of the teams who travelled to Northern Ireland to take part in the only NCAA collegiate basketball tournament to take place within Europe.”

For media enquiries on the upcoming Basketball Hall of Fame Belfast Classic please contact Massive PR – Brittany Breslin (Brittany@massivepr.tv / 07786 964 645) or Bryony Chapman (Bryony@massivepr.tv / 07834 593 111)

Notes to Editors

About the Basketball Hall of Fame Belfast Classic: The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Belfast Classic presented by Sport Changes Life and the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) is back for its second year and has doubled in size, with eight US college men’s basketball teams scheduled to play over three days of gameplay at the SSE Arena Belfast (University at Albany; University at Buffalo; Dartmouth College; LIU Brooklyn; Marist College; University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee; University of San Francisco; and Stephen F. Austin State University. Held in conjunction with the MAAC, Sport Changes Life, Rory McIlroy’s Foundation – the Rory Foundation – Aer Lingus, Belfast City Council, Velocity World Wide, Basketball Ireland and The SSE Arena, Belfast, the Belfast Classic take place from 29th November – 1st December with teams playing in two brackets, Samson and Goliath. The event is powered by Darius, Velocity Worldwide’s customer engagement technology to create an experience like no other for the fans attending the unique event.

About Sport Changes Life Foundation: The primary goal of SCL is to provide an opportunity for raising the aspirations of young people on both sides of the Atlantic so that they can live out their dreams and guide them as sport changes their lives.  Sport Changes Life is a sports foundation built on inspiration, hope and victory and works in disadvantaged communities to help young people find a path to a brighter future with the help of their international student athletes, the Victory Scholars.  In February 2016, SCL formally partnered with The Rory Foundation as both foundations strive together to help change the lives of young people on the island of Ireland and beyond.

About the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference: With 11 institutions strongly bound by the sound principles of quality and integrity in academics and excellence in athletics, the MAAC- is in its 38th year of competition during the 2018 - 2019 academic year.  Current conference members include: Canisius College, Fairfield University, Iona College, Manhattan College, Marist College, Monmouth University, Niagara University, Quinnipiac University, Rider University, St Peter’s University and Siena College.

About the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame: Located in Springfield, Massachusetts, the city where basketball was invented, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame promotes and preserves the game of basketball at every level – professional, collegiate and high school, for both men and women on the global stage.

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