Falkirk Fury: Senior men secure seventh SBC Division 1 Championship title after Blaze showdown

Falkirk Fury’s senior men secured a seventh SBC Division 1 Championship title over the weekend after a gruelling March period saw John Bunyan’s team collect seven wins on the spin.
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The Sony Centre sponsored side’s victory gives them a league and cup double winning season to date and they did it on their biggest rivals home court – at the Crags SC against Boroughmuir Blaze.

For coach Bunyan, it was his side's resilience that grinded out the win after losing starting point guard, Jonny Bunyan, who fouled out in the third quarter. That left the league’s top scorer, Ali Fraser, and his teammates to pull together and take an 88-83 point win.

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Fury’s men last won the title back in the 2019-20 season and have now taken both the Scottish Cup and Championship from holders Blaze this time around.

The Falkirk Fury team celebrate with the SBC trophy after securing a seventh top title at the Crags SC in Edinbrugh (Photo: Submitted)The Falkirk Fury team celebrate with the SBC trophy after securing a seventh top title at the Crags SC in Edinbrugh (Photo: Submitted)
The Falkirk Fury team celebrate with the SBC trophy after securing a seventh top title at the Crags SC in Edinbrugh (Photo: Submitted)

The victory also handed the Falkirk club their second Division 1 Championship title of the weekend after Fury's U16 women defeated Blaze for a League and Cup double also.

Fury have now taken five out of the 12 major titles this season, three more than any other Scottish club, as well as finishing runners-up in the U16 men's Scottish Cup and runners-up in the U18 men’s Division 1 Championship.

Fury's seven for seven March saw them initially face three clubs on the road - Dunfermline Reign, Glasgow University and Renfrew Rocks, and that was then followed by three home games in five days, with the team defeating Renfrew Rocks, City of Edinburgh Kings and Boroughmuir Blaze.

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That set up a last day shootout with Blaze on the road to decide the Championship title. Both teams sat at an impressive 18-2 record for the season and it all came down to the wire.

Ali Fraser was Fury's top scorer (Photo: Gary Smith)Ali Fraser was Fury's top scorer (Photo: Gary Smith)
Ali Fraser was Fury's top scorer (Photo: Gary Smith)

Two excellent run plays took Fury out to a 4-0 lead in the opening minute with guards Eddy Leginas and Jonny Bunyan putting the points on the board. But, in a game that had eight lead changes and nine tied scores, the match was always going to be close.

With former BBL Glasgow Rocks captain Bunyan hitting seven of Fury's early points, it was clear he was being targeted for attention by Blaze as the first quarter progressed.

It was the home side who led at the end of the first with a 20-17 lead. The second quarter then saw Finlay Hendry tie the game for Fury at the restart with a long three as the teams again started to exchange baskets with Murray Hendry and Ali Fraser dominating for Fury inside.

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With the game tied at 28 points apiece Bunyan had to sit out with foul trouble, leaving student Ammar Illyas to come in off the bench. He grabbed an instant three, and with Fraser and Hendry still racking up points inside, Blaze were forced to call a timeout as Fury went to a 36-28 lead.

The half time whistle saw the Sony sponsored side lead by five with a 38-33 scoreline. The start of the third period then saw Hendry get three early points and Bunyan hit another long range three as Fury led 44-39 early on.

Then halfway through the third period, Bunyan was given a fifth foul much to the astonishment of the Fury fans who saw no contact on the call. That brought Illyas back into the game, and with Fury trailing 50-47, this was to be a real test for the Falkirk side.

But with Fraser and Hendry continuing to score in the paint, Illyas hitting another three, and Eddy Leginas hitting a great two point play, Fury were now ahead by nine, their biggest lead of the game at 66-57.

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Hendry and Illyas kept Fury clear at the 11 point mark until the final two minutes where Blaze turned it around to lead by five with the score at 83-78.

Fury were far from done however as they held Blaze scoreless for the rest of the game while going on a sensational 10-0 run for the win, the title and the double.

Down the stretch it was big baskets from Illyas, Hendry, Fraser and Leginas that secured the win at 88-83.

Key to Fury's performance was having six players on double figure scoring. The league's official leading scorer Fraser (who averaged 25.9 pts per game) was bang on that average - 26 points. Hendry had a huge array of stunning dunks in his 19 points with three Fury players sharing 33 points on 11 points each; Illyas, Hendry and Bunyan. Leginas completed the group with ten points personal. Fury also saw key court time from Adnan Jalil, Ziggy Dauksas and Javon Daniels. Captain Keith Bunyan, Bryan Munnoch and Daniel Velykyy completed the Fury team.

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“To achieve the double is special, we have done that a number of times before, but when you have to work with different line-ups multiple times throughout the season, it is not so simple,” head coach John explained. “We have great team chemistry and that showed when Jonny fouled out - the players were focused for him and they were determined not to lose.

"With three games in five days prior to the final Blaze game, we had to manage rest and at our last full session, we simply chatted through the Blaze home game and where we could improve doing very little work. I have an experienced group of players and their input is key, they know the game well, have played at a high level and have a great understanding of the game.

“We have looked at the game and I will reserve commentating on an open forum about the many issues around it. Above all I am pleased for the players, who worked very hard for this double trophy winning season. The support from our fans throughout the season has also been excellent and that has been a huge part of our success."

Fury are now the number one seed in the final four play-offs and will face Stirling Knights on Saturday in Dundee in the semi-finals with the final played on Sunday.

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