Though both teams are unbeaten so far, Edinburgh Kings will go into tonight’s basketball league derby as firm favourites to beat Edinburgh University at Portobello High School at 7.20pm.
Kings are strong in all departments and the return of their 6ft 11in centre Ali Mackay after several years of exile in the USA and Italy has given them a massive edge in rebounding.
Mackay fired in 30 points against Tayside Musketeers in a 71-52 cruise at Broughty Ferry last Saturday and could dominate again against a new-look student team with a new coach Achilleas Chatzitheocharis.
Kings’ new coach Craig Nicol, however, is taking nothing for granted. “Edinburgh University have recruited well in recent seasons, causing us problems and have won two close games to start their season so we’ll need to be at our best,” he said. “Our second-half performance was much improved last Saturday and we’ll be looking to build on that tonight.”
A large part of Kings’ improvement, particularly in defence, can also be put down to the return of Nicol’s younger brother Calum, the former Glasgow University captain who is now pursuing further studies at Abertay University.
EU certainly have problems as they prepare for the game as, up until yesterday, they had no training time this week because the halls were being used for other matters and their home game v Stirling Knights last Saturday was called off at short notice due to a booking mix-up.
“We’re still trying to get our chemistry right and we’ve got injuries to Laurits Juffers and Rodger Watt who may not play,” said Chatzitheocharis.
“Playing (probably) the last match at Portobello against Kings makes it one of the toughest we’ll face this season.”
EU starting point guard Davy Rowan, a former Kings junior, plays his last game before going travelling.
Champions Boroughmuir Blaze travel to Paisley tonight to face St Mirren at the Lagoon Centre at 8.15pm in what coach Simon Turner believes is their toughest test so far: “St Mirren away on a Friday night is one of the biggest challenges in the league – they have a very big team and we have a fast team so it will be an interesting clash of styles,” he said.