UBC Thunderbirds Travel to California- ‘This Weekend is Really About us getting Established’

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PHOTO COURTESY: UBC ATHLETICS

VANCOUVER, BC–The UBC Thunderbirds men’s basketball team, currently ranked as the No. 7 squad in the CIS rankings, will see its first game action in a month as it takes part this week in the 36th annual Tom Byron Classic, hosted by Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California.

“This weekend is really about us,” said UBC head coach Kevin Hanson. “It’s really about us getting established, getting us used to the basketball again and getting shots up and getting our systems back into play.”

“The guys are looking forward to getting back into game mode and it’s a real condensed camp. We’ll have three mini-practices before that first game and we’re right back at it,” said Hanson of his team’s preparations for the event.

The Thunderbirds’ first game will tip off at 3:00 pm on December 29th against the University of California, Merced of the NAIA. The Bobcats (0-5) are in the midst of their first ever varsity season.

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UBC and UC Merced have played one common opponent so far this season: the Santa Clara Broncos, an NCAA Division I team.

The Thunderbirds split with Santa Clara in the fall, opening the school year with a 98-85 overtime win on Sep. 8 in front of 2,500 fans at War Memorial Gym, before dropping a close 68-65 decision on Sep. 10.

UC Merced lost 80-48 at Santa Clara on November 11th.

The winner of Thursday’s game will face the winner of the other semi-final, which features Trinity International University of Deerfield, Illinois against the host school, Westmont College.

The tournament final will take place on Dec. 30 at 7:30 pm, while the consolation final is at 3:00 pm.

This is the second straight year UBC will take part in the Tom Byron Classic. The three years before that, UBC traveled to Hawaii during the winter holidays.

“It will be nice to get some vitamin D,” said Hanson. “But it’s all based on getting ready for league play next week.”

UBC (4-2) will host No. 6 Alberta and No. 4 Saskatchewan at War Memorial Gymnasium, when Canada West conference action resumes on the weekend of Jan. 6/7. 

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