Scotland’s oldest basketball club, Pleasance, have drawn a real derby match in the first round of the Scottish Cup tomorrow (2.15pm).
They are “away” to Edinburgh University at the Centre for Sports and Excellence at the Pleasance, where they were first based more than 60 years ago.
Now strictly a Lothian league side – or rather two sides – Pleasance are under no illusions about the size of the task facing them against a student team who may be having their first outing of the season but are more than capable of going a long way in the competition.
For the purposes of the cup, Pleasance can bring in some of their experienced veterans from their “second” team, including Frank Whyte and Kenny Moretta, who will join the likes of first team regular Steve Flett.
“We nearly won promotion from the Lothian second division last season, but really, we’re glad we didn’t as we are happy with where we are – we really enjoy our games and the level we’re at,” says another veteran, Graeme Muir, who is unavailable this weekend.
But that does not mean they will not scrap for every ball when they meet their younger rivals.
Edinburgh will be without their German-Northern Irish Scottish Universities guard Michael Kirkpatrick and powerful Estonian Gert Merisalu, who has returned to the Capital after a two-year break.
But club president Ben Warrington is confident they will still give a good account of themselves: “I’m excited about Saturday and the season as a whole – we’ve some new players, so it will be interesting to see how we all gel.”
Warrington and point guard Davey Rowan have both stepped down from also playing national league for Boroughmuir Blaze this season to concentrate on their studies.
But that and their Scottish Universities team experience should stand them both in very good stead for the coming student season, in which they will renew rivalry with Glasgow in the BUCS top Scottish division.
Glasgow, meanwhile, continue to fly the student flag in the national league where they have had the bad luck to draw two of their toughest opponents in the opening weeks when many of their players were not back.
Beaten finalists (to Edinburgh Kings) last year, they could well go out of the Scottish Cup tonight when they are away to league champions Falkirk Fury at the Mariner Sports Centre (8pm).
Already beaten at home by Fury in the league, Glasgow will at least have their Canadian star Al Kalilovic back for tonight’s game.
The only other men’s tie this weekend is a second round game between Glasgow Storm and Portlethen Panthers at North College tomorrow (1.30pm) – both teams having had a first round bye.