Capital basketball players Gregor Gray (Edinburgh Kings) and Malcolm Winning (Boroughmuir Blaze) will return home from Australia later this week with bronze medals after Great Britain under-17 team of four produced a superb performance to finish third in a 3 x 3 tournament at a Youth Olympic festival in the searing heat of Sydney at the weekend.
Fears that the Team GB quartet of two Scots and two from England might be outclassed due to lack of experience were totally confounded as they won all three games on the opening day, beating Indonesia 19-17, China 21-13 and Australia (green) 22-19.
Temperatures were so high on Friday that the organisers moved the games indoors the following day and Team GB managed a further win over New Zealand (20-12) but lost 21-12 to Australia (gold) and 14-13 to a Combined Oceania team. That put them into the last four where they lost 19-16 to Australia (gold) but beat China again to clinch the bronze.
“We’re all delighted with the bronze medal and to win it as we did was fantastic,” said Gray, a pupil at North Berwick High. “We came here looking to prove what we could do in basketball and we’ve done that. Hopefully by doing well we can encourage more people into the sport and can continue to raise the profile of basketball in the UK.”
Without the Capital duo, both Kings and Blaze won their junior national league games, although Kings had to go to overtime to beat Glasgow Rens 79-72 at Portobello. Blaze beat Troon Tornadoes 92-76 at the Crags which perhaps made up a little for Troon’s 67-60 senior win over Blaze later on, a result which strengthens Troon’s chance of finishing third overall. Kings seniors beat Glasgow Storm 90-31 after leading 47-14 at half-time. “It was a slow start but we then stepped up our defence,” said coach Doug Reilly.
“It was important that we maintained our focus with two big games against Glasgow University coming up.”
Lee Reilly and Ed Reks both scored 19 points, Paddy Campbell 15, Garreth Lodge 12 and Simon Flockhart 11. Edinburgh Kool Kats and Polonia Phoenix both won to stay level at the top of the women’s league, Kats beating St Mirren 60-50 at the Lagoon Centre in Paisley and Phoenix seeing off Fury at Holy Rood High. Emma Findlay and Hannah Peacock both scored 13 for Kats.