It will be a case of “Ladies first” for the new Scottish basketball league season when it tips off two weeks earlier than usual at Oriam, the new National Performance Centre at Heriot-Watt University’s Riccarton campus a week today.
An expanded Scottish Women’s League of 12 teams will all play their opening games at the same venue with Edinburgh University opening their title defence against South Lanarkshire Colliers while their Capital rivals Polonia Phoenix meet one of two league newcomers Glasgow University, both games at 11am.
The other newcomers, Glasgow Fever, will play Edinburgh Kool Kats at 3pm, when Boroughmuir Blaze also play St Mirren.
Sandwiched in between at 1pm will be the games between Falkirk Fury and St Andrews University and Tayside Musketeers v Glasgow Rocks.
Although the new set-up has not been universally popular it seems a bold initiative to promote the women’s game which is already set to have a major boost when the new women’s pro team Caledonia Pride begin their fixtures at the same venue on Sunday, October 10.
Graham Shaw, the league administrator, commented: “By having all 12 of the senior women’s teams compete at the same venue it provides an exciting opportunity to mark the opening of our sport’s new National Performance Centre, while also reinforcing the importance of women’s basketball in Scotland.”
Although Edinburgh University are sure to be favourites to retain their title they may find that the task of providing the backbone of the new WBBL team as well as fielding teams in both the British Universities Northern Premier Division and the Scottish Women’s League may be quite demanding, especially on Head Coach Bart Sengers, who is now also the Scotland High Performance Coach.
One Capital club looking forward to the new season are Polonia Phoenix whose coach Toni Szifris has already made some new signings including a Greek guard.
“I think we have the makings of a very good team and don’t need any more players at this point,” said Szifris, a former Scottish National men’s coach.
The Scottish men’s league resumes on September 12.