Basketball: Final countdown as Capital sides contest crunch games

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The Capital hosts three Scottish Cup semi-finals this weekend in what is a big weekend for the sport and for the three Edinburgh teams 
involved.

Though the finals will be at Paisley’s Lagoon Sports Centre on February 2 and 3, there is certainly a chance of an all-Capital men’s final there depending on the outcome of tomorrow’s Edinburgh Kings v Falkirk Fury semi at Portobello High (1pm) and Sunday’s Boroughmuir Blaze v Glasgow University clash at the Crags Sports Centre (3.20pm).

And Edinburgh Kool Kats will be out to prevent an all-West women’s final when they host St Mirren for the second week in a row at Portobello High tomorrow (11am), with rookie team Tayside Musketeers very much the underdogs at home to holders Glasgow Rocks at Arbroath on Sunday (3.20pm).

With all due respect to Boroughmuir and Glasgow University, tomorrow’s Portobello men’s clash could easily have been the dream final had seeding not been abolished last year.

There are still those who would argue that the sport is not big enough in Scotland to justify open draws right through the competition.

Whichever of the big two triumphs tomorrow will go into February’s final as the clear favourites for Fury are unbeaten this season while Kings have lost only once, to Falkirk, in the Scottish League.

Fury had the dominant presence of GB Olympian Kieron Achara in their ranks in beating Glasgow University in the league last weekend but it is still not certain where the 6ft 10in centre, who scored 21 points in that game, will be available for tomorrow’s game as his agent is in talks with both the Scottish Rocks about a renewal of his contract and with a possible Italian club.

If no deal is signed by tomorrow night then he will play at Portobello.

Kings believe they can beat Fury with or without their GB star but know they must be at their best for the full 40 minutes and not have lapses such as occurred in their last game against St Mirren.

“These are the games you want to play in – we need to play to the level we know we can and trust that’s good enough,” said coach Doug Reilly.

Blaze too will have to up their game against a Glasgow University team who held Fury to 40-40 at half-time and never threw in the towel. A return to form of former Scotland guard Kevin Anderson, who has been working long hours recently, would help their cause.

Kool Kats’ 79-49 home league win over St Mirren last Saturday might be a danger to their cup prospects against the West side. They were so much on top, though, that it would be a major surprise if they were not to repeat their win.

“The message is we take nothing for granted,” said Kats coach Ben Gunn. “It’s a different game and we need to match last week’s performance levels.”

Rounding off a busy day at Portobello will be a cadet men’s derby between Kings and Blaze at 3pm.