This weekend sees the first games of 2019 in the Scottish Division 1 Championship Leagues.
The clubs, Senior and Junior Men and their joint Knights Fury Central U16 Woman's team, sit top of their respective leagues and will face a mixed level of competition in their first games of the New Year.
The men, who sit on 22 points, are two points clear of three teams who are also challenging for the title – all sitting on 20 points. But, crucially, all teams have games in hand over the Falkirk side.
Fury’s three single digit losses on the road early on in the Championship mean the Falkirk side's chances of winning the top league in Scotland for the fifth time in the last seven seasons is going to be very tough.
Fury reversed the Blaze loss with a double digit home win without their Bulgarian star Boris Matrakov but, after beating undefeated Dunfermline Reign in the Scottish Cup semi-final, again in double digits, they crucially lost to the Fife team, in the reverse Championship game, with a side that did not have Matrakov, Greek forward Greg Fousas and influential St.Kitts guard – Bantu Burroughs - who went injured at the start of the second quarter when Fury led by as many as 14 points.
This Friday at Grangemouth SC at 8pm, the Sony sponsored side face Edinburgh Kings, who remain the only team they have not beaten this season. The Kings, along with St.Mirren
– the team Fury face in the Scottish Cup Final in a few weeks, are on two losses and will see the game as vital if they have a chance of catching Reign in the long term.
Fury will look to have Matrakov and Burroughs back in their line-up but there will be no Foussas, who is likely to be out for the rest of the season after a serious injury in the Reign
Fury Headcoach John Bunyan told the Falkirk Herald ahead of Friday's game: "This is clearly a tough opening game for both teams as we begin 2019 and while the sides are a fairly stark contrast to each other, with Kings having a number of younger players from their own program in their team, we have a group of more experienced players from a variety of basketball
"Our team has great team spirit and we have played some great basketball during the season, notably in that cup semi-final versus Reign and our League win on the road at St.Mirren. We have been reasonably consistent on offence this season, but our focus needs to be on being stronger on the defensive end than we have been for the majority of our games to date.
"I am looking forward to a close game and hope to see our fans out in force and helping us get the win."
Fury’s other two teams who have gone into 2019 at the top of their respective Division 1 tables are the clubs top Junior Men's side who have an 11-0 record and the U16 Women's
Keith Bunyan’s unbeaten Junior side are looking to make it back to back Championship titles and have looked comfortable throughout the season, playing great team basketball where the ball is shared, with a strong work ethic on defence.
They face a Glasgow Rocks side on Sunday at 12.30pm tip at GSC, who go into the game with a 2-10 record.
The KFC U16 Women's side sit joint top of their Scottish Division 1 league alongside Perth Phoenix – with the sides still to meet in the Championship race. This Saturday at 3.15pm, the Central side, who have an 8-2 record, face a Edinburgh Kool Kats side, who have struggled all season and have a 1-10 record.
The KFC team competed in London over Christmas and Kim Flockhart’s side will have benefited from the tough competition they faced in the capital.
Fury’s other matches this weekend see the Senior Womans side face Kool Kats at 1.15pm on Saturday – Fury sitting sixth in the table with Kats in fourth spot. Likewise it’s a fourth versus sixth clash in the U16 Cadet Men Division 1 game on Sunday at 2.15pm when Fury – sixth in the table, face fourth placed Inverness Lions.
Fury Junior Men 2 are also in action at 10.30am on Sunday against Kings 2 in a Division 2 clash.
Fury will also have their U14 boys teams, U14 girls team, U12 boys and girls teams in action in the Central/East Regional Development Leagues. The Basketball-Scotland Central Academy is also running this weekend ,which sees the best U14 players from a number of Central clubs develop their individual and team skills.