Aussies stand between Falkirk four and a Commonwealth medal

Kieron Achara has captained Scotland to the basketball semi-finals (pic by JSHPIX.CO)
Kieron Achara has captained Scotland to the basketball semi-finals (pic by JSHPIX.CO)

The Scottish basketball team, featuring four former Falkirk Fury players, will take on hosts Australia on Saturday with a place in the final at stake.

The Scots booked their place in the last four with a 66-61 quarter-final win over Nigeria - with Kieran Achara, Jonny Bunyan, Fraser Malcolm and Ali Fraser all playing key roles.

The match opened with seven threes – four from Scotland and three from their opponents. Bunyan hit two threes early on with Malcolm also hitting from behind the arc.

Scotland’s top scorer in the tournament, Gareth Murray, was also on fire with 10 points in the opening stanza, as the Scots took a 23-16 lead, turning the home Aussie fans against them as they loudly supported the perceived underdogs.

However with Nigeria listed as 32 in the World rankings and the Scots not even listed – the support was rather ill informed!

The second period saw the underdog Scots take an even bigger lead as they moved to 40-28 ahead.

Former Fury star Fraser – ‘the man in the mask’ was in great form, despite his broken nose –picked up in the previous game.

The third saw poor offence from both sides initially, but Nigeria started a comeback that had their Aussie support raising the volume. The Scots did not hit a basket till Bunyan scored on a driving well into the period.

Malcolm and Achara were also helping helping the Scots hold their own and they just held out to tie 46-46 at the end of the third.

So it was now a final quarter that was left for the Scots to make history. Coach Rob Beveridge did not allow play to go to long before he had his starting five back on court and just after the Scots had gone one behind, they opened up a 10-point lead with Fraser hitting a long 3 for that lead.

However with the clock running down – point guard Bunyan went out the game with after a collision see him get a knee in the side.

He returned to the game for the tense final minutes, but it was now the Scots fans who were being heard as their team stayed in front despite Nigeria closing to within three.

The final points of the game saw a well executed set play run by the Scots for Murray to slam down the final basket and take the Scots to a dream match against hosts and top 10 world basketball power Australia in their own backyard!.

The Fury four's stats on the night were: Kieran Achara, 29 minutes, 3 pts, 8 rebounds, 3 assists; Jonny Bunyan, 29 minutes, 10 pts, 5 rebounds, 3 assists; Fraser Malcolm, 28 minutes, 8 pts, 2 rebounds, 4 assists; Ali Fraser, 29 minutes, 10 pts, 3 rebounds, 3 assists.

The win maintained the Scots' 100 per cent Games record, following their Pool wins over England, Cameroon and India.

Captain Achara said: "This is a surreal kind of feeling, one that was definitely worth the wait.

"This was our goal and we believed it – but to execute it is a totally different thing. It is a phenomenal achievement; the guys have played outstanding.”

Achara, who missed out on the last Commonwealth Games in 2006, admits it has been worth the twelve-year wait: “Honestly, this is the proudest I have ever been. I am trying to live in the moment and enjoy it but we are still so determined. Our goal is to medal and we have two cracks at it now.”

Victory over Australia would put Scotland into a final against either New Zealand or Canada and guarantee them at least a silver medal.

Should the Aussies win, Scotland would face the losers of the other semi-final in a bronze medal play-off match.