Team Scotland tipped-off their Basketball campaign in style as the sport made its return to the Commonwealth Games for the first time in twelve years. A 77-65 win over England got the team’s Pool B campaign off to the perfect start.
It seemed fitting that Gareth Murray would lead the way, scoring the first three points of the game. Murray had an impressive outing as he became Scotland’s only Basketball player to date to have played at two Commonwealth Games.
It was Rob Beveridge’s first game in charge as Head Coach of Scotland and in a fast-paced first half, it was clear the side were still trying to adjust.
Speaking after the victory, Beveridge dedicated his first win as Scotland coach to his father who is unwell: “That was an amazing effort from all of the guys involved. The team chemistry out there tonight was so special. When I went back in to that locker room after the win and looked around the room, it really made my heart pound because I knew how important this was for my family and for my dad.”
An intense first half came to a close with Scotland just in front and, with the game hanging in the balance at the break, the score was 35-32.
Scotland controlled the tempo of the game following the half-time interval and were the stronger of the two sides at the start of the second half. The team’s defence provided England with a fresh headache at the start of the third quarter as Scotland increased their lead to ten.
A late run at the end of the third quarter brought the English right back into the game and a buzzer-beating three pointer from England cut Scotland’s lead to just 1 with ten minutes to play. Mike Vigor struggled early in the game but went on to steal the show in the final quarter, connecting on a number of crucial shots to edge Scotland over the finish line, ending an 11-game losing streak against England.
Vigor, who made his official debut for Scotland, finished the game with 14 points and said: “It was a real honour and I was proud to be running out there for my first game as part of Team Scotland. There was a few nerves kicking about the room and that transferred into the first half but we did a great job in the second half. Getting that first win against England is massive with the whole rivalry and with it being our first game. It’s now time to focus on the next one so we can continue to enjoy the Games even more.”
It was 12 years in the waiting for GB Olympian and Team Scotland Captain, Kieron Achara, having missed out on Melbourne 2006. Speaking after the game, Achara said: “Our goal is to medal in the tournament, so we’ve got a long way to go. We’re going to celebrate tonight but then get refocused on our next two games”
Scotland, who now sit top of Pool B, will face Cameroon on Saturday in their second Pool B match.