Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Friendly competition between old mates

Pair won together but now looking to beat each other

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MARKO Milosevic and Brayden Duff have gone from opponents to teammates and back to opponents again.

But the friendship between the two basketball players has remained unchanged even now as they prepare to square off on the basketball court in the 21st annual Duckworth Challenge tonight at 8 p.m. at the University of Manitoba Investors Group Athletic Centre. The women's game goes first at 6 p.m.

Teammates with the two-time provincial high school AAAA basketball champion Garden City Fighting Gophers, Milosevic is now a 6-foot-4 forward in his second year with the University of Manitoba Bisons basketball team (3-4) while Duff is a 6-foot-4 forward in his third year with the Winnipeg Wesmen basketball team (2-5).

"He basically dominated me on the court because he had more expertise, he used to lay the beat-down on me every practice," laughed 19-year-old Milosevic. "Brayden helped me so much in high school. He had such a great work ethic and always put in so much effort. I always knew if I wanted to compete with him, I would have to match that. I know we both got better from that kind of competition."

The two players met in junior varsity basketball when Duff was with the Maples Marauders and Milosevic was with the Garden City Fighting Gophers. Duff transferred to Garden City and they won two varsity provincial titles with the Fighting Gophers in 2007-08 and 2008-09 under coach Phil Penner.

"Marko always came with a strong work ethic, too, and he's very good at knowing what he can bring to the table for a team and then delivering that," said 20-year-old Duff. "When we were teammates at GC, Phil was just an unbelievable coach for us and he ran these great practices where me, Marko and Jarred (Ogungbemi-Jackson, now with the Calgary Dinos) would just go hard. You could never slack off because all of us were committed to working hard all the time and that brought our work ethic to a high at all times. We never let each other slip."

Milosevic said winning two championships together was something he and Duff will never forget.

"We talk about it all the time. Every time we see each other something comes up about those days," Milosevic said.

The Duckworth Challenge is a fun competition for bragging rights between the two universities in Winnipeg and held within Canada West regular-season competition. It was named for Dr. Henry E. Duckworth, who was the U of W president from 1971-81 and U of M chancellor from 1986-92.

"He's going to want to win as much as me so I'll be ready for him," Milosevic said.

Duff said he expects there to be some "playful banter" between the two if they get to guard each other on the court. "We've always bugged Marko that even though he's as tall as me, he can't dunk to save his life so I'll be bringing that up during the game," Duff said, laughing.

ashley.prest@freepress.mb.ca

Duckworth Challenge into 21st year

What: It is a fun competition for bragging rights between the two universities in Winnipeg and held within Canada West regular-season competition. It was named for Dr. Henry E. Duckworth, who was the U of W president from 1971-81 and U of M chancellor from 1986-92.

When: The basketball portion will be held tonight at the U of M Investors Group Athletic Centre with the women's game at 6 p.m. and the men's game at 8 p.m. The volleyball portion will be held on Feb. 1 at the U of W Duckworth Centre with the women's match at 6 p.m. followed by the men's match, which is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m.

Who: Manitoba won the 2010 Duckworth Challenge 3-1 as both U of M volleyball teams and the men's basketball team were victorious. Manitoba leads with a 10-5-5 record in the 20-year history of the Duckworth Challenge.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 1, 2011 C6

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