Top of the Teams: Basketball in Sport Focus

January 28, 2020

Recording Team Scotland’s best ever team sport result with 4th place at Gold Coast 2018, Basketball is next up in our ‘Celebrating Our Past, Building Our Future’ Sport Focus, which features all 25 sports in which Scotland has competed at the Commonwealth Games.

Look out for everything Basketball related on our website and social media channels in the coming weeks as we delve into the archives for tales of past success, get behind the scenes with the team behind the team and look ahead to Basketball’s return to Commonwealth Games action in 2022.

Our Sport Focus begins on a sad note, as we pay tribute to two special players taken too soon. As the world mourns the loss of a legend of the sport in Kobe Bryant at the age of 41, the Scottish basketball community mourns the loss of Robert Archibald, the first and only Scot to play in the NBA, at just 39.

Born in Paisley, Robert began his basketball journey with Dunfermline Reign before moving to the US to pursue his dreams.  Following an outstanding four-year NCAA career at the University of Illinois he was drafted to the NBA in 2002, playing as power forward and centre for the Memphis Grizzlies, Phoenix Suns, Orlando Magic and Toronto Raptors. Internationally, he represented Scotland throughout his teenage years before joining the GB programme in 2007. He went on to feature at three major international tournaments: EuroBasket 2009, EuroBasket 2011 and London 2012 Olympics – one of only three Scots to play basketball at an Olympic Games.  Archibald followed in the footsteps of his father, Bobby, who captained Scotland and GB in the 1980s.

Basketball at the Commonwealth Games

Basketball is an optional sport in the Commonwealth Games and made its debut at Melbourne 2006. In Melbourne the medal winning nations were identical in both men’s and women’s competitions with hosts Australia taking gold, New Zealand silver and England bronze. The sport made its return for the Gold Coast 2018 Games where Australia again took both gold medals and Scotland had a strong showing, finishing 4th.

Basketball was the only new addition to the Games programme in 2006 and the Scottish men’s team were excited about the prospect of making their Games debut in Melbourne. Playing in Pool A they were up against Australia, Nigeria and India.

Scotland beat India 67-57, staying ahead in the scoring throughout the entire match. This was to be their only pool win and they entered the playoffs for 5-8th place. A victory against South Africa left them to face Barbados to decide 5th and 6th places. But an ankle injury to Guard Laurie Costello just three minutes into the match seemed to seal their fate and Scotland lost 63-73 to take sixth place. 

For 2018 Glasgow Rocks and GB Basketball star, Gareth Murray, was the only returning Scot from the 2006 Games and was joined by fellow Rocks teammate and GB Basketball captain, Kieron Achara who had missed out through injury last time round. Amongst an exciting line up of players making their Games debut, 17-year-old Callan Low became the youngest player ever to represent Team Scotland in Basketball.

Drawn in Pool B alongside England, Cameroon and India, the Scots were based in Townsville, a two hour flight north of Gold Coast. Scotland tipped-off their Commonwealth campaign in style on day one as the sport made its return to the Commonwealth Games for the first time in twelve years. A fabulous 77-65 win over England got the team off to the perfect start to sit at the top of Pool B.

Matches against Cameroon and India swiftly followed and with the Scots growing in confidence they recorded a further two wins to confirm their place as Pool B winners and advance to the Qualifying Finals in Cairns. Once again the team defied the pre-tournament rankings, securing another hard fought victory, this time against Nigeria 66-61 to earn the right to fly south to join the rest of Team Scotland on the Gold Coast, to take part in the semi finals.

Drawn against hosts and tournament favourites Australia, Scotland suffered their first defeat 46-103 and then narrowly lost out 69-79 to New Zealand to see the bronze medal slip from their grasp on the final day of the Games. Finishing fourth was a fabulous achievement and Basketball can be proud of posting Scotland’s best ever result by a team sport at a Commonwealth Games.

Basketball is once again on the sport programme for Birmingham 2022, this time in a 3 x 3 format. Wheelchair Basketball is set to make its Commonwealth Games debut in Birmingham and will also be a 3 x 3 event.

Find out more about Basketball in the Commonwealth Games on our dedicated Basketball page.

Scotland at the Commonwealth Games

The Commonwealth Games is the only occasion where Scotland gets to compete in a multi-sport event as a nation in its own right and is one of only six countries to have competed in every Commonwealth Games since their inception in Hamilton in 1930. Represented by 15 athletes participating in six sports at those first Games, winning a very creditable 10 medals, Scotland have gone on to win medals at every Games since.

Edinburgh became the first city to hold the Games twice in 1970 and 1986 and also became the first city to host the Commonwealth Youth Games.

Scotland hosted the Games for a third time when Glasgow welcomed athletes and officials to the XXth Commonwealth Games which was held from 23rd July – 3rd August 2014. Team Scotland celebrated their most successful Games in history, winning a total of 53 medals and went on to record their highest overseas medal tally ever at Gold Coast 2018.

Find out more about the Commonwealth Games and Team Scotland’s past success in our Past Games section.

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