Basketball fans looking for an early Christmas cracker could do worse than head for the Lagoon Centre, Paisley tonight for the first of the two Scottish Cup semi-finals between the hosts St Mirren and Edinburgh Kings at 8pm.
With the two teams now trailing Falkirk Fury in the league, this is a big game for both of them.
Kings coach Doug Reilly has seen a steady improvement in his team’s play since the start of the season, but will it be enough to match the normally high-scoring Saints?
“I’m looking for an early Christmas present from the team – it’s all about defence, that’s what will determine who wins,” he insisted.
Saints coach Stuart Glass is sure his side will play better than they did in their 72-56 league defeat to Fury.
“It was a disappointing performance last time out against Falkirk – not enough points scored by us, the top-scoring team in the country.”
The winners tonight will go on to play the winners of the Glasgow Rocks v Falkirk Fury tie to be played at Langside College tomorrow at the absurdly early time of 10.45am, hardly the best for promoting the game.
But then a lack of promotion seems to be a feature of the current Scottish Cup competition with only the most inquisitive able to find a mention of where and when the final is.
That apparently will again be at the Lagoon Centre on either February 1 or 2. Further controversy has arisen around this year’s competition and the fact that the semi-finals of all the age-groups have been brought forward to the weekend before Christmas when the schools have already closed.
Portobello High School is certainly available tomorrow when the semis of the Scottish cadette women’s cup between Edinburgh Kool Kats and St Mirren (11.00am) and cadet men’s cup, between Kings and Boroughmuir Blaze (1pm), will take place.
Also taking place tomorrow is the first of the Scottish women’s cup semi-finals between Falkirk Fury and Glasgow Rocks at the Mariner SC (3pm).
The second semi-final, which is a repeat of last year’s final, is at Arbroath Sports Centre on Sunday when Tayside Musketeers host holders Edinburgh Kool Kats (3.20pm).
Kats will be determined to avoid a repeat of their recent 55-53 league defeat there.
Blaze juniors scent glory
Boroughmuir Blaze are through to the Scottish Junior Men’s Cup final for the second year in a row after a high-scoring 94-71 win over St Mirren at the Crags Sports Centre last night.
Tom Skinner led Blaze with 26 points, captain Malcolm Winning adding 15, while Mark Armstrong had 24 for Saints, who led 19-16 after the first quarter but were 44-36 down by half-time.
Blaze, who beat Tayside Musketeers in last year’s final, will now play the winners of the Tayside derby between Musketeers and Perth Phoenix at Arbroath SC tomorrow (1.20pm), which is a repeat of last year’s semi which Muskies won.
Making a welcome debut in Scotland with a whistle at the Crags last night was David Davies, the manager of Edinburgh Rugby and a referee with experience from both England and New Zealand.
Baptism of fire for Finnie
Capital coach Donna Finnie was relieved to escape with a 100-57 defeat after her Houston Baptist University team’s first ever game away to NCAA giants Baylor at Waco, Texas.
“I’m delighted we managed to score 57 points,” said the St Augustine’s High FP, whose team now play two games in California.