Basketball: Kings fight with fury to put them on course to retain title

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Edinburgh KINGS defeated Falkirk Fury 79-61 in the Scottish Basketball League at Portobello with a performance that confounded predictions and was in total contrast to their abject display against Falkirk when they were beaten 96-69 in the Scottish Cup semi-final at home just before Christmas.

From staring at a second disaster and possibly a trophy-less season, Kings are now a game clear of Fury, still their nearest rivals in the league on two defeats, and odds-on favourites to be league champions again.

The Capital men could afford to lose to St Mirren at Portobello next Friday night and still retain their title, assuming they win their other remaining games, but now that they are back in winning mode they will want to beat the Saints as well and gain revenge for the one league defeat they have suffered this season, at Paisley last November.

Despite having an inexperienced bench for a game of this level and the narrowest margin for error, the champions gave a cool, composed display and refused to be intimidated by either the size or the sharp-shooting reputation of their opponents.

Crucially, no-one got in foul trouble in the starting five or it might have been different with Edgars Rekis surviving after picking up three in the first half. Down 7-4 at the start, Kings gradually gained control with Campbell hitting two threes in a ten-point spell to lead 23-11 after the first quarter, the massive Roni Gordon replying with all 11 points for the visitors.

Gordon was joined off the bench by another Scottish internationalist centre, Stu MacKay, in the second quarter, a “twin tower” tactic which reduced the gap to two with four minutes of the half left.

But two successive three- pointers by Craig Reilly, another from Campbell and a fourth from Lee Reilly stretched the lead to 42-30 at half-time.

Still Fury were not done, and they closed the gap to five points at the end of the third quarter as Keith Bunyan found his three-point range and Scott Russell, who only arrived for the second half, started to drive to the basket.

With their two big men back on, Fury actually had the gap back to two again with four minutes left and this game was still not over. But another three from Lee Reilly and successive scores from Simon Flockhart and Rekis took the margin to ten with only two minutes left.

Campbell ended with 24 points for Kings, Rekis adding 17, Flockhart 15 and the Reilly brothers nine each, while Gordon had 20, Keith Bunyan 14 and Stu MacKay ten for Fury.