Team Swindon head coach Antonio Wilburn hailed the club’s first-ever season and says the club is ready to take on the National League next.
The coronavirus outbreak brought Team Swindon’s Wessex League campaign to an abrupt end but with three games remaining, Wilburn’s men had already clinched the Division One title and won the Karl Taylor Cup.
Furthermore, Team Swindon had won every game to date and looked set to win their remaining regular league fixtures before bidding for play-off success.
While Wilburn is understandably disappointed that the season had to end early, he admitted it was the right decision and hailed the season as a huge success.
“Unfortunately due to the circumstances the season ended sooner than we anticipated,” said Wilburn.
“With three games left in the season and play-offs soon to follow, we were ready to compete for a championship. It’s funny because when we won the Karl Taylor Cup the guys were happy but remained focused because we knew we still had work to do.
“When we knew we were going to finish top of the table, once again it was an amazing feeling but we remained focused. We knew as a team we were not ready to celebrate until we held the championship trophy and claimed all three titles. With the circumstances happening, it’s a little frustrating but without a doubt the Wessex League and England Basketball made the right call in canceling the remaining of the season.”
The National League now awaits Team Swindon Basketball Club next season and Wilburn is relishing the chance to see his side compete at that level.
“At the moment we are waiting for confirmation of the 2020-2021 National League structure but we will be looking to start in which ever division we are placed in and work our way from there,” added Wilburn.
“We have a good base and showed previously that we are able to compete at National Level as we faced National League Division Two teams earlier in pre-season and came out successful.
“A lot of things will be happening this off season which no doubt will have us ready to compete at the National level.
“Now with an early off season we are putting everything in place for next season, which of course is National League and developing more of our youth program. Thank you to everyone who supported us throughout the year. We are looking forward to a bigger and better season.”
Looking back on the season, Wilburn said his personal highlight was seeing and hearing the crowd in their opening match, adding: “A personal highlight for myself was seeing a full sports hall of spectators cheering and supporting our team on our very first game of the season.
“It started with a vision and Shane Dunne our graphic designer turned that vision into an identify. There was a buzz in the stands you heard the Swindon chants from the young fans, you heard the supporters interacting and engaging with the game. With basketball growing everyday in the UK especially in Swindon we want to continue to give the town the professionalism and platform it deserves.
“We went into the season with high expectations and to be able to achieve what we have in our first season only shows what type of club we are. We were titled the champions of the Karl Taylor Cup in January and now to be titled the League winners for Division One undefeated is a huge accomplishment. None of this would have been possible if it wasn’t for such a committed staff and roster working hard each and every day to bring a successful basketball program to the Town of Swindon.
“From the start of the season our goal was to create an atmosphere for basketball in this town.”
Star players Matt North and Matt Ford were both delighted with how the season went and are looking forward to next season already.
North said: “To win the cup and league double in our first season is a massive achievement. To come from being a brand new team in September to lifting both trophies seven months later is a great feeling.
“More importantly the engagement and support from basketball fans in Swindon has exceeded all of my expectations. I’m looking forward to getting back on the court next season and bring more success to our town.”
Ford added: “We had a great first season, and managed to go unbeaten with two trophies. But this is only the start. There’s a lot of potential within the squad, which is the most exciting thing going into next season.
“We’ll be having a tough pre-season over the summer, and I can’t wait to get going again.”