Concordia 73, UQAM 69: Stingers Men’s Basketball Takes Home RSEQ Championship
With Win Over UQAM, Stingers Head to Nationals as Sixth Seed
The Quebec university basketball season is over, ending on a high note for the Stingers who defeated the Université du Québec a Montréal Citadins on Saturday night by a score of 73-69.
With this win, the team finds itself en route to Halifax this week, their first trip to the national championship since 2012.
The Stingers put on such a strong effort that they led throughout the whole game, managing to build a lead that ballooned to as many as six points in the second quarter to comfortably cut down the nets in the Loyola Gym.
League MVP Ricardo Monge finished with 19 points, eight assists, and seven rebounds, but the UQAM Citadins squeezed a surprising game-high 21 points and three rebounds from Hugo Adin.
“To get to this point, it’s very special,” said Monge.
Monge registered four three-pointers out of six attempts. He hit a three-point shot from deep at the end of the third quarter and that move filled the Stingers tank, fuelling them to exercise strong pressure to close out the game.
“These guys deserved it. To become a champion, you’ve got to learn. You gotta learn the daily habits of becoming a champion,” said Concordia head coach Rastko Popovic.
Talk of a dynasty will soon commence about Quebec university basketball’s best team, and with good reason. Rastko Popovic has turned his program into not just a playoff contender–but a provincial powerhouse that has proven it is here to stay,
“I told them; Come back here after the game and we can look at each other in the eyes and say that we really tried and the result will take care of itself,” said Popovic
Having already competed in the finals last season, losing to former provincial champion McGill, the Stingers had a lot of experience coming into the game on Saturday.
Second team all-star Olivier Simon, who explained that the team tends to take it step-by-step in a high-stakes game like Saturday’s final grabbed 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Stingers.
“It’s the same thing for a lot of plays that we made, we could have panicked. But like [Simon] said, all the hours that we put watching film, it gives us something special,” said veteran Adrian Armstrong.
“I told them; Come back here after the game and we can look at each other in the eyes and say that we really tried and the result will take care of itself,” –Rastko Popovic
“To feel great about the work we’ve put in and understand that yes, we’ve got to be better for next year and next week because everyone wants us and everybody’s coming for us.”
As for Ontario native and second-year Oge Nwoko who scored seven points and four rebounds, he was very happy to have chosen to join the Stingers squad. He claimed to have made the right decision choosing Concordia coming out of high school.
“I think this program is gonna help me in the long run. This is not the only chapter that we’re gonna get,” he said.,The rookies appeared to also be very happy to be part of such celebration. Rookie Samuel Lessard explained that the veterans taught him the ideology of Concordia and how to play according to the style of the Stingers.
“We won the provincial championships with [my former school] Montmorency, and now I get to be part of the team winning a championship in my first year,” he said.
Popovic reflected on the regular season while mentioning that his team has had a good run. He credited the success to his player’s discipline and consistency.
“Like I told the guys, we’re gonna make mistakes we’re gonna miss shots, it’s part of the game,” he said. “Can we lock in mentally when things are good and not get too high and not get too disappointed when things go bad? There’s no time for that in basketball”.
The team will be travelling to Halifax this coming weekend to compete in the U SPORTS national championships starting Friday, March 8.
Popovic, who recently was honoured with the Coach of the Year award, expressed his gratitude for the opportunities afforded to the team and its athletes by Concordia’s athletics department.
“For us, to represent university and fight to win again this is not just us, but Concordia University. As I said, I’m a proud Concordia guy for life.”