Rob Beveridge had already completed an emotional family mission before leading Scotland’s men’s basketball team into today’s Commonwealth Games semi-final against his native Australia.
The Aussie says coaching Scotland – who feature City of Edinburgh Kings player Kyle Jimenez in their squad – has not only been a major personal achievement, but also a timely tribute to his family.
After losing his Scottish aunt Christine Southwell to cancer last year, he decided to take the offer to coach the national team which represents his paternal family’s heritage. Adding an extra edge is his father John’s daily battle with emphysema, putting him on 24-hour oxygen support.
His 74-year-old father, who moved from Scotland to Australia in 1963, was a smoker and worked in the building industry, where he was regularly in contact with asbestos.
“They said he should have been dead probably five years ago and he’s pretty ill at the moment,” Beveridge told thewest.com.au.
“One of the main reasons I wanted to do this was for my father as well as my auntie. We’ve got a very close family and obviously with them being Scottish, it’s meant the absolute world to me to be able to do this for him and all the other aunties, uncles and cousins who have come out of the woodwork.”
Beveridge, who guided Australia to success in Melbourne at the 2006 Games as assistant coach, has nothing but praise for his current group of players as they chase a surprise medal on the gold coast.
“I couldn’t ask for a better group of guys and they’re just a genuine team,” he said.
“They all hang out together and play cards, laugh and listen to music. It’s really good because you see so much segregation among some teams where they all have their headphones on or they’re always on their phones.
“It’s a great group to be with and they just wanted to buy in from day one. This will truly be a David and Goliath situation and we’ve got to play exceptionally well to stay with them, but we play with heart and soul and we’ll get in and have a go.”