The last time UBC hosted the CIS national men's basketball championships was 1972.

John Mills remembers it well.

He was a key player on the victorious UBC Thunderbirds, scoring 27 points in the final game.

"I did have a lot of points that game. It was one of my better games," he told On The Coast host Stephen Quinn.

"We felt very confident. We had won two years previous in 1970, so we certainly felt [winning] was within our capability."

Mills, who these days is the the COO of the Richmond Olympic Oval and co-chairs the board of Canada Basketball, says it's unfortunate that Halifax has had a monopoly on the tournament for 26 of the past 44 years since UBC last hosted it.

John Mills

John Mills says university sports are an excellent way for the schools to connect with the larger community. (CBC)

"I'm hoping this will demonstrate to the Canadian [Interuniversity] Sport group that we can certainly host a great tournament on the West Coast, and the tournament, it is a Canadian national championship, should be across Canada," he said. "We'd certainly like to see it come out here every once in awhile."

Mills hopes young players, who may want to play in the CIS themselves one day, get a chance to check out some of the games — although he acknowledges the tickets have gone fast.

"I hope it's inspiring," he said. "It's a very high standard of play. It's very entertaining."

And what does he think about the Thunderbirds' chances?

"Well, they're the eight seed and they're playing the number one seed, but they're playing at home. I think the players are very talented, and I think they have a good shot tonight," he said.

"I'm very much looking forward to celebrating later tonight."

The tournament begins today and runs until Sunday, March 20.

With files from On The Coast

UBC 1972 men's basketball team

UBC's 1972 men's basketball team. John Mills is in the back row, third from the left. (UBC)

To hear the full story, click on the audio labelled: Former UBC baller remembers last time his school hosted — and won — CIS championships