The revamped Division 1 UTM Eagles basketball team played their third game of the season on Wednesday against reigning champs Rotman A in a rematch of the 2013/14 final in which UTM White fell 62-75.
The Eagles were sporting a 2-0 record before Wednesday’s tilt with hopes of revenge against Rotman, who came to UTM territory to beat them in a heartbreaking final. Despite the Eagles’ hopes, the talented Rotman team edged UTM yet again, winning 81-86.
Rotman’s 6’9” big man Duncan Milne singlehandedly beat UTM back in March with a stellar performance on offence and defence, scoring 27 points and blocking anything that came towards the Rotman net. Milne was in fine form yet again Thursday, securing 26 of his team’s points.
UTM was unable to find a shooting rhythm in the first half of the game. UTM’s Zamam Khan found his way to the free throw line early in the game, but the team had difficulty scoring with Rotman’s defence constantly pressuring them, whereas Rotman had no trouble.
Baris Ondul was the secondary scoring outlet for Rotman A after Milne, bagging two back-to-back three-pointers and increasing the team’s lead.
Near the end of the first half, Milne once again made it known why he’s the leader of his team, walking through a weary UTM defence and slamming in an emphatic dunk.
The second half showed a determined UTM team playing at a quicker tempo and finding ways to get the open shot. Unfortunately for the home team, their shots flew everywhere in the court except into the basket.
UTM’s Nana Acquah opened the scoring for his team with five points early in the half. Acquah’s effort brought UTM within a point of their opponent, but the comeback was thwarted by the big man himself, Duncan Milne, who managed to get through some horrible UTM defending for an easy two.
When UTM’s loss seemed inevitable, however, our Haris Nurkonavic made a jaw-dropping block on Milne, sending the ball up the court for a basket in transition, surprisingly giving UTM their first and only lead of the game with 10 minutes left. In the face of Nurkonavic’s efforts, however, coach Juan Nunez decided to take UTM’s only player capable of handling the Milne problem off the court and everything went downhill for the Eagles from there.
Nunez spoke about his decision to take out Nurkanovic after the game.
“Duncan Milne is a great player with a bright future. He’s played professionally in Bulgaria and Romania and was a major problem for us in last year’s final,” said Nunez. “Haris Nurkanovic was able to keep him at a bay for certain periods throughout the match, but I pulled him out in the last few minutes of overtime because we needed shooters on the court to get us back in the game.
“I am pleased overall with the way in which the boys played today,” he said. “Several of them are first- and second-years whom I am pushing hard to establish a successful long-term squad able to compete with the likes of Rotman and Woodsworth.”
Player of the Match: Duncan Milne (Rotman Commerce)
His towering presence in both offence and defence showed how crucial of a player he has come to be in the Rotman starting lineup. He tirelessly caused trouble for the UTM defence and managed to dunk three times at the opposite end of the court. He scored 26 of his side’s 86 points—almost a third of his side’s final tally!