Blaze upturn stokes the embers for Cup clash

Blaze players defend against Falkirk Fury in a recent match. Picture: John Devlin

Blaze players defend against Falkirk Fury in a recent match. Picture: John Devlin

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THE welcomed re-emergence of Boroughmuir Blaze as a force in Scottish basketball makes their trip to take on the holders Edinburgh Kings at Portobello High School tomorrow in the Scottish Cup the tie of the round.

The quarter-final tips off at 1pm and will reignite a cup rivalry that stretches back decades.

The return of Blaze, as a major force is a welcome development and the teams close local rivalry will surely be a positive force for the improvement of both clubs.

Perhaps surprising to some, considering their disappearance for a few years from the national league, Boroughmuir still hold the edge over their rivals for the number of Scottish senior cups won, first clutching the trophy back in 1966 and then triumphing for ten years in a row from 1968.

The first of these successes was actually at Portobello, in the old gym, long before the current City of Edinburgh club was formed, when they beat previous winners Edinburgh University 51-42.

Kings made their first appearance in the final in 1991 but had to wait another ten years for their first final victory, though in the next decade or so they added a further seven titles including five in a row from 2007.

That side included Scottish international point guard Laurie Costello, who, provided he arrives back from a work engagement in France in time, could play a pivotal role tomorrow – for Blaze.

Though only appearing infrequently for his new club in the last two seasons, Costello showed in last Saturday’s narrow league defeat to Glasgow University that he can still be a key player.

Blaze coach Simon Turner, who has already claimed a 14-point Scottish League win over Kings at the Crags this season, is excited by tomorrow’s clash: “We’ve a full team for the first time this season and we can’t wait for the game, it’s going to be a great experience for all the players.”

Kings, who will have coach Doug Reilly back at the helm after his trip to Germany to watch his son Lee play for Gotha Rocks, are well aware of the threat: “The game against Blaze will be tough,” predicted experienced international centre Simon Flockhart who came back to his best form against Troon Tornadoes with 25 points in their 19-point win.

But Kings may be without Audrius Ciapas who has had a lung infection.

Unbeaten Blaze juniors, two of whom, Malcolm Winning and Tom Skinner, may feature in the senior match, put their record on the line against Kings juniors at 11am.

Edinburgh University meanwhile have been cruelly hit by injuries for their cup trip to face St Mirren tonight (Lagoon Centre, Paisley 8.15pm), with ace guard Mike Kirkpatrick and Greek forward Mouzakitis both out with sprained ankles, the latter sustained in their 81-31 home romp over Aberdeen University this week. With Estonian cap Gert Marisalu also unavailable the chances of another upset look slim.

In the other ties, Falkirk Fury face Tayside League side Perth Phoenix at the Mariner (8pm tonight) and Glasgow Storm clash with Glasgow Rocks at the Northern College tomorrow (1.30pm).