Eli Pasquale’s impact on basketball in Victoria ‘second to none,’ says former coach

Famed Canadian basketball star Eli Pasquale dies at 59

The star of the 1980s University of Victoria (UVic) Vikes basketball team Eli Pasquale died on Monday at 59 years old following a battle with cancer.

Born in Sudbury, Ont., Pasquale rose to fame in Canadian basketball. He was the point guard for the Vikes team from the 1979-80 season until 1983-84 and won five straight national championships. He was named the B.C. University Athlete of the Year in 1982.

Pasquale later played for Team Canada at two Olympics – Los Angeles in 1984 and Seoul in 1988 – coached by the late Jack Donohue. He would have represented Canada a third time in Barcelona if not for an injury.

Pasquale was inducted into the Canadian Basketball Hall of Fame in 2003, the B.C. Hall of Fame in 2004, the UVic Hall of Fame in 2005 and the Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame in 2014. UVic also retired his jersey number, 13, in 2005.

He was as focused on his commitment to developing youth basketball in the community as he was in preparing for his own games, said his former Vikes coach, Ken Shields, who led the team in all five national championships.

Shields kept in close touch with the family while Pasquale was ill and visited him on Saturday.

“He was ill for some time, in the end it went very quickly, the cancer was particularly aggressive, and he deteriorated rapidly,” Shields said.

READ ALSO: University of Victoria Vikes take back-to-back national field hockey titles

Pasquale had arguably the greatest impact on basketball in Victoria of anyone from the past 30 years. During his amateur playing career he started the Pasquale basketball youth camps and leagues that continued, with his son Manny’s leadership, even while Pasquale was sick.

Both of Pasquale’s sons, Isaiah and Manny, attended Laurentian University in their father’s hometown.

Pasquale’s impact included being part of the intense 1980s basketball culture at UVic that set the tone for a young Steve Nash, who looked up to Pasquale and would practice with the team.

“Steve always credits Eli for being the best point guard in Canada and having an impact on him,” Shields said.

In 1983, Pasquale was part of the Canadian university team that won a gold medal at the World University Games, defeating a U.S. team with future NBA stars Karl Malone and Charles Barkley. That year Pasquale was named Canada’s top university basketball player and earned the award again in 1984, as he was also drafted by the Seattle Supersonics.

When he showed up to the Vikes in 1979, his focus and commitment was to the team, Shields remembers.

“He brought a passion for the sport with him, he loved to practice, and he loved to compete,” Shields said. “He was totally dedicated to being the best he can be, we worked together very closely. He was a leader, our leader, during his five years at UVic, on the court.”

READ ALSO: Mount Douglas Secondary to host third annual Santa Slam basketball tournament

Off the court he was quiet, but always preparing, fiercely competitive, an outstanding leader and his passion to excel was unmatched, Shields noted.

“You can’t measure his impact on the Vikes program, he was the face of the program while he was here. Even though we had other great players, his impact at UVic and university basketball was second to none.”

Shields will always remember, the first time Pasquale completed the Vikes conditioning exercise in his first practice, he finished second place.

“He never finished anything but first for the rest of the five years. He lead every single conditioning exercise,” Shields said.

During their heyday, the Vikes would travel to the U.S. and played won seven of 14 games against Div. 1 NCAA teams.

Pasquale is survived by his wife, Karen, his sons, his siblings Vito and Luciana and his mother Adriana.


@devonscarlett
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

devon.bidal@saanichnews.com

Just Posted

UPDATED: Police raid 23-year-old cannabis compassion club in Victoria

Supporters gather outside the Cannabis Buyers Club on Johnson Street

Father of murdered Realtor writes letter, pleading for help from Saanich mayor

Lindsay Buziak was stabbed to death on Feb. 2, 2008, her case remains open

Despite reports, no one found in Saanich donation bin

Police confirmed no one found stuck or in the area

West Shore RCMP looking for suspects after Langford site hit twice with graffiti

Police urge the public to report any vandalism they witness

B.C. to restrict nicotine content, bring in 20% tax on vaping products

Province will also restrict candy and fruit flavoured vaping products to adult-only stores

POLL: Do you support CUPE workers in their dispute with School District 63?

SD63 schools to remain closed as strike continues Tuesday

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Nov. 12

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Use of force deemed justifiable in arrest of suspect after snowy chase near Nanaimo

Independent Investigation Office of B.C. reports on incident from late last winter

B.C. woman sends fight to reduce preventable medical errors to Victoria

Teri McGrath and South Okanagan senior’s centre members presented 150 signature petition to local MLA

B.C. First Nation Chief Ed John faces historic sex charges

John served as minister for children and families under then-premier Ujjah Dosanjh

Transgender inmate in Surrey denied transfer to women’s prison

Petitioner argued denial of transfer to women’s prison was unreasonable and unfair

Community uses loophole to paint 16 rainbow crosswalks after B.C. council says no

So far 11 rainbows are painted and five planned, all since council denied the first proposal in September

Most Read