Edinburgh Kool Kats will be at full strength for their Scottish League Play-offs at Paisley tomorrow, but coach Graham ‘Ben’ Gunn admits a month-long break from basketball has given him a headache.
Kats, who went through their entire Scottish League season unbeaten, have not had a proper game for weeks but it would still be a major surprise if they were not to advance to the final. They tried to fill the gap with games against the Kings cadets and Polonia Phoenix.
“It has been hard to motivate people given the gap but we’ll be at full strength tomorrow apart from Louise Gray who’s not trained for a while,” said Gunn.
Kats have been further boosted for their game at The Lagoon Centre with the news that their outstanding GB junior team centre Hannah Peacock has been called up to join the GB senior training squad next month. Should she make the final 12, Peacock would go on to play in the Euro A tournament in Hungary in June with GB hopes pinned on clinching a qualifying spot for the Rio 2016 Olympics.
Peacock, a student at Edinburgh University, has continued to play for Kats in the Scottish League, even though EU entered the league for the first time this season, and was one of the Kats team who lost to EU in a major upset at the Scottish Cup Final at the Lagoon two months ago.
She would dearly love to turn the tables on her student teammates – she represents Edinburgh in British Universities fixtures – if the two teams meet again in the final on Sunday (12.15pm).
But first there is the little matter of the semi-finals with Kats facing Tayside Musketeers in the first game at 10am tomorrow while Edinburgh University face Glasgow Rocks in the second at noon.
Because of the early start Tayside will travel to Paisley tonight. “We’re fully prepared to play two games this weekend,” said Muskies coach Donnie MacDonald confidently. “Our training schedule has been hit by the school holidays but we’ve made other plans and training’s been going well.”
Edinburgh University have continued to train hard with Dutch coach Bart Sengers for whom a second trophy would represent an excellent return in his team’s first season in open competition.
But they are wary of Rocks, who they have to get past first.
The men’s semi-finals are both tomorrow with unbeaten Scottish League and Cup champions Falkirk Fury facing Edinburgh University at 4.15pm and cup runners-up St Mirren playing league runners-up Boroughmuir Blaze at 6.15pm, with the final on Sunday at 6.30pm.
University coach Danny Costello has been working his team hard in training this week but expects to be below strength against a Falkirk team they so nearly beat at the Pleasance earlier this year. “We’ll be without Gerd Marisalu, who’ll be a big loss,” he said.
Blaze coach Simon Turner is determined to make the most of the occasion: “Advancing to the senior semi-finals for the first time in decades shows the progress of the club but the players want more,” he said.
Saints showed in the cup final against Fury that they never give up.