Team England get their Commonwealth Games underway tomorrow as the Men’s side take on Scotland in Townsville. With a familiar opponent first up, the home countries rival should give England a stern test straight out of the gate.
“Scotland are a very good side. They have GB captain Kieran Achara leading them, a very good coach in Rob Beveridge who has plenty of experience over here in Australia, GB’s Gareth Murray of course, plus other quality players,” said Men’s Head Coach Andreas Kapoulas. “It’s going to be a tough game. They’re going to be really pumped up for this one but we’ll be excited to play our first game to. We’ve set our goals for this tournament, and we want to get better every day. That starts with this challenge against Scotland.”
Despite the relatively unique experience of an England side in this competition, tomorrow’s opponents are anything but an unknown quantity. 8 of Scotland’s roster have BBL links, 7 with the Glasgow Rocks and Michael Vigor playing for Bristol Flyers, Kapoulas’ own side. Callan Low and Sean Nealon-Lino both compete within Basketball England’s National Basketball League (NBL) structure, so will also be familiar to Team England.
With the first game of the Games now set to tip, it also marks the end of an 11-day preparation period that Coach Kapoulas feels has gone really well. “It has been a very good preparation for us. Adjusting to the travel and jet-lag was useful, the time in Brisbane was a very important period for us to build on our foundations from camp, and now we’re in Townsville where we’ve developed our chemistry and the games we’ve played have been very good.”
With everything going to plan so far on court, Captain Mike Tuck is keen to highlight that the mood in the camp is high ahead of tomorrow’s opener, “We’re excited! The guys are ready and we’re itching to get things underway,” said the DBL Sharks Sheffield man. “We’ve been training together for a while now and the coaches have done a great job preparing us. I think we’re ready, and the guys are tired of playing against each other in practice. Tomorrow is a business day; we’re going to work. We might share a hotel with Scotland but I can’t see there being too many smiles over breakfast tomorrow.”
It’s a sentiment echoed by forward Andy Thomson on the eve of the competition, “Everyone is ready to get going. We’ve done all the work we needed to do, now we just need to put that on the floor and get the job done. That’s our aim now and that’s what we’re focussed on.”
Date: Thursday 5 April
Tip: 8:30am (UK Time)
Stage: Pool B – Group Play
How to follow: We’ll have coverage and commentary throughout the game on our Twitter feed, @bballengland. The game may also be chosen for coverage by the BBC, either on their main channels, the red button service, or online.
For more on Team England's, click on the button below.