UEL will take on Oxford in a first versus second clash at 4 pm at the SportsDock tomorrow as the university holds its annual celebration of sport, Big Blue Wednesday.
The East Londoners defeated Oxford earlier in the year in a close content, 80-73. UEL head coach Joshua Tackie, who has led UEL to a 7-1 record so far during his first year in the role, said that beginning quickly against their foes will be key.
“We haven’t been starting games well recently, so we will be looking to gain an early advantage and ride that momentum to the finish line,” Tackie said.
It would be the finish line that UEL have been set on aiming to cross, as two-time defending South Premier champions. If UEL win on Wednesday, a worst-case scenario would see UEL, Oxford and Southampton Solent all finishing with records of 8-2.
But even should that happen, UEL would still hold tiebreaks over both sides, on the strength of having defeated Oxford twice and holding a better head-to-head point differential against Southampton Solent.
“I think that securing the South Premier title is an important sign that we are one of the best programs for student athletes in the UK,” Tackie said. “Doing it three years in a row would prove that we have consistently been an elite student-athlete basketball program.”
But all this hinges on UEL defeating Oxford on Big Blue Wednesday. UEL could still win the league even if they should lose — although they would need Oxford to lose one of their remaining matches — but Tackie wants to make Big Blue Wednesday a little sweeter this year.
“The timing with the possible title-winning game falling on Big Blue Wednesday is excellent for us, a success would certainly add to the celebration,” Tackie said.
Tip-off will be at 4 pm at SportsDock, with spectators urged to come dressed in blue, with a prize to be awarded for the best costume. Those who cannot attend the match can also watch it live on the UELSports Facebook page. UELSportsLIVE will provide match commentary.