Caledonian Pride have problems ahead of tip-off

Bart Sengers
Bart Sengers
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Scottish women’s basketball takes a massive stride forward tomorrow when the country’s first professional women’s side play their first game in the Women’s BBL.

Coach Bart Sengers and his Caledonia Pride team could scarcely have had a harder start as they travel to play Leicester Riders in the first of three games on the road before hosting their first home game against Sheffield Hatters at Oriam on Sunday, October 10 at 1pm.

“Our first four games are terribly tough and we won’t really have home advantage for our fourth as we have a game in Nottingham the night before and will have to fly up to get back in time,” says Sengers.

Deliberately dampening expectations, despite their three warm-up wins, the Dutch play-caller, who now doubles as the Scotland High Performance Coach and Edinburgh University Head women’s coach, stressed the long-term nature of a project which has been made possible by funding from the university and Basketballscotland, via a grant from Sportscotland.

“If we can make the Play-Offs and pick up some wins along the way then we’ll be doing well in our first season.

“We’ve got a bit of a situation for this weekend as basically we’ve only got eight fit players.

“We’ve got low numbers and hardly any height,” admits Sengers whose attempts to sign a big centre have so far been thwarted.

His best tall Scottish player, Hannah Peacock, is recovering from strained ankle ligaments and is unlikely to play tomorrow, while another Scottish cap, Hilary Wood, is facing further knee surgery, though happily not from a recurrence of the ACL injury she suffered while in Canada.

But one good news story is the form of EU newcomer and former Tayside Musketeer Hannah Robb who was named in the All Star team for last weekend’s Sheffield Tournament for her 13 points and seven rebounds having been promoted from the EU Scottish League team.

Robb joins Scottish caps Robin Lewis, Kirstin Simpson, Cathy Mitchell and Beth Mackie in the team and reinforcements may still arrive from the USA to help a still developing young Scottish side.

One such is Natalie Bastian, an NCAA division two-point guard who played for Franklin Pierce University Ravens and posted impressive statistics of 13 points a game last season including almost 40 per cent from three-point range.

She and Lewis may interchange at the point-guard position but another Scottish cap, Sarah Thomson, who has had considerable BBL experience with Riders, is still out with an ankle injury.