Fury have a French connection

Darren Leith led the Fury side in France
Darren Leith led the Fury side in France

Clark Eriksson Fury’s junior men spent Easter playing in a top level competition in France and more than held their own against some tough opposition.

The Gars Du Ruen International tournament was celebrating its 20th year and the event held in Guipavas, Brest, included a UK side for the first time in Falkirk’s very own Fury.

The Clark Eriksson side received the invite on the back of their previous excellent performances in the Flanders Tournament in Belgium, having won the Elite Junior event in 2009.

The opening ceremony in Guipavas saw the Mayor welcome the eight clubs taking part from France, Belgium, Scotland and Serbia.

Two pools of four saw Fury drawn against host club Etendard of Brest, Union Poitiers 86 - a French Pro A club side - and favorites Jalt Le Mans.

Fury were described in the local press as the ‘great unknown’, so no one knew quite what to expect from the Scots side who were going into the competition just seven days after dramatically losing the Scottish Play-Off final by one point.

In the opening match Fury were narrowly edged out by 33 points to 35 against Etendard.

The opening period saw the host club race into a 12-6 lead, however Fury found their form and stunned the 500 home supporters with an 18-5 second stanza that saw them lead 24-17 at the break.

Fury’s big men, captain Darren Leitch, Ben Chok and Ross Gibson, all found the basket with the Falkirk side’s trapping defences causing Etendard some problems.

However, a second half saw Fury barely get a call as their offensive plays were continually disrupted with fouls from the home side.

In the closing seconds Etendard edged clear and a shot on the buzzer from Fury to win the match literally went in only to bounce back out for a two-point loss.

Scoring was spread across the Clark Eriksson side and everyone contributed to some excellent defence.

In their second match Fury lost out by 44 points to 53 against Union Poitiers.

Only six points separated the teams at the half-time with Fury’s perimeter players, Connor Martin and Martin Sandison, keeping them in touch.

The third period saw the professional-based club pull out to a 14 point lead, but Fury stormed back in the final period.

Threes from Martin and Sandison had the Scots looking to pull off a shock result but Poitiers held out.

Fury suffered a further loss - 33-60 - against a solid Jalt Le Mans side on Sunday.

An excellent shooting side, Le Mans put Fury on the backfoot from the off.

Down 23-8 in the opening spell, only Fury’s Ben Chok was able to convert in that first quarter.

As Le Mans ran their bench Fury held their own with a low scoring 9-6 second period.

The third saw Fury bring the game back from 26 down to 19 with a series of traps.

From then on in the French side played their starters with Fury holding their own in the final period but giving up a couple of late baskets to take the game out to 27.

Fury finally tasted victory with a thumping 71-20 win against KK Zvezda.

In the play-off game for seventh spot, they faced a Serbian side who had suffered heavy defeats in their Pool games.

KK had a young side and Fury, unlike the other teams who had played them, elected not to press and rack up heavy scores.

The Falkirk side ran their bench throughout and had a comfortable win with Connor Martin top scoring on 22 points with Darren Leitch on 13.

The weekend finished with a closing ceremony that saw Jalt Le Mans crowned the tournament champions.

The event gave Fury three tough matches - in two of which they competed throughout.

The Le Mans game would have needed an exceptional performance for the Scots to win, but once again Scottish basketball showed it can compete at a high level.

Connor Martin finished fourth top scorer in the competition.

At the conclusion of the event, the hosts complimented the Fury delegation on the standard and manner in which the team had taken part in all parts of the weekend.

Fury were partly sponsored in the competition by Bee Copy, a digital and graphic printing company, based in Cockburn Street, Falkirk.

Fury head coach John Bunyan, who led the team in France, told Heraldsport: “We knew when we got the invite that this would involve some tough matches and that’s exactly why we went.

“The higher standard improves the players and helps the team develop. It was an excellent event and thanks to the parents and Bee Copy for their support”