Northeastern and Princeton Universities come out on top at Day 1 of London Basketball Classic, presented by Inspirus Sports
American college basketball players marked Thanksgiving Day this year with the launch of the inaugural London Basketball Classic at the Copper Box Arena. Featuring a line-up of teams including the MAAC’s Manhattan College, Boston’s Northeastern University, Princeton University from New Jersey and Army West Point, local basketball fans were treated to back-to-back games for Day 1 of the two-day tournament.
Marc Mulholland, Executive Director of the London Basketball Classic remarked on the first day of outstanding, high scoring games, “We are delighted by the first day of the tournament! Each of the four teams represented the high standard for which Division I Collegiate basketball is known, and it was also great to see community groups connecting with our partners at HoopsFix, Basketball England and West Ham United Foundation. Local fans and pupils who had the opportunity to meet with players early I the week enjoyed the highly skilled play that all four teams brought to the court. We are delighted to have been able to bring the London Basketball Classic to the Copper Box Arena!”
In a close match-up between Manhattan College and Northeastern University which ended in a tense overtime battle, Northeastern Huskies clinched the win over the Manhattan Jaspers 69 – 67.
Coach Bill Coen, Northeastern University reflected on the importance of this unique experience for his team: “[On Thanksgiving] It’s customary in the States to say what you’re grateful for. We’re so grateful for this opportunity to come over to London to experience the culture, experience the people, do some community service and get out there and really hear about the history and the culture and traditions of this country –and also get the chance to play against some outstanding programs in basketball. It’s an unbelievable experience for our team, one they’ll never forget.”
Game 2 of the day kept fans entertained as Princeton University’s Tigers took on the Black Nights from Army West Point and came out victorious with a score of 74 – 66 after a closely matched first half of gameplay. Amongst the line-up for winners Princeton was British player, Newcastle native Tosan Evbuomwan, who wowed fans – including his family who got the opportunity to see him play for the first time in a Princeton uniform – with an impressive 14 points, 4 assists and 8 rebounds.
“We’re really thrilled to be playing in the London Classic,” said Princeton Coach Mitch Henderson. “We’ve come a long way to play in a really unique, special event.”
Reflecting on the impact Tosan’s presence on the team has had, Coach Henderson said, “Tosan is a generational player in our program. He is humble first, but he wants to be great. It is very rare to have somebody of his caliber of both person and player, and he’s also a terrific student. We feel very fortunate to have him in our program.”
Speaking about his recent experience visiting young pupils at London’s Bobby Moore Academy with West Ham United Foundation Tosan said “I’m super thankful that we were able to do that. It was me not too long ago, so we were fortunate that we got the opportunity to go and speak to the kids.”
Following the success of the Dublin Basketball Classic held last week and previous Belfast Classic tournaments held pre-pandemic, the inaugural London Basketball Classic, presented by Inspirus Sports, was organised as an opportunity to showcase the high level of talent in American college basketball and inspire young players in Britain to pursue this fast-growing sport whilst growing awareness of the opportunities that sport can bring, including studying in prestigious colleges and universities across America or travelling the world to represent a team or university.
Continuing the London Classic’s championship format, the two winning teams, Northeastern University and Princeton University will advance to the championship game at 7.30pm Saturday 26th November, and a third-place game will also take place between Army and Manhattan College at 5pm.
For more information or to purchase tickets to Saturday’s games visit https://www.inspirussports.com/.