Edinburgh University men will play their second game of the new Scottish National Basketball League against Tayside Musketeers at the Pleasance tomorrow at 2.20pm with a new coach.
Achilleas Chatzitheocharis is Greek and last season coached the Dunfermline Reign junior men in the Scottish League as well as assisting with the Scottish under-14 side but he will now step up to a position with high expectations given the successes of the previous post-holder Danny Costello.
Costello signalled his intention to retire at the end of last season but stayed on to ease the transition. He stood down for good last weekend after a nail-biting 75-74 win over Reign in EU’s season opener.
“I’m glad I went out on a winning note,” said the former Edinburgh Kings play-caller, who is one of the most successful coaches in Scottish basketball history and steered EU to third place in the league last season as well as the Scottish Cup final, Play-Offs final and a fourth successive Scottish Universities title with an unbeaten record four-year record. If following that would not be daunting enough, Achilleas will take over a virtual rookie team with three of last weekend’s winning side missing. “This game will be tough for us as we’re missing quite a few starters and our Trials are only 24 hours before the game,” he said. “The season has started far too early.”
While EU will have played two games by this weekend former champions Edinburgh Kings have another week to wait. New coach Craig Nicol, who has taken over from Doug Reilly, is lining up a formidable team with his younger brother Calum Nicol joining from Glasgow University and 6ft 10in North Berwick centre Ali Mackay returning after an unhappy experience playing pro ball in Rome last year.
Adding to their formidable height will be Simon Flockhart who has decided to return to the fold after a spell playing for Falkirk Fury. Perhaps even more significant is the return of GB under-20 cap Lee Reilly after a lengthy injury absence to strengthen the guard spot alongside elder brother Craig.
Kings have a testing warm-up fixture at Portobello HS on Sunday (7pm) with USA Select who travel around Europe in the pre-season show-casing and placing players with clubs.