Former Falkirk Fury star Ali Fraser lifts BBL trophy with Leicester Riders

Former Falkirk Fury player Ali Fraser was celebrating this week after his Leicester Riders side lifted the BBL Championship.

Tuesday, 27th April 2021, 3:04 pm
Falkirk's Ali Fraser, a former Fury player, became just the third Scottish Basketball player to lift the BBL Cup after winning the title with Leicester Riders last weekend

Riders defeated Cheshire Phoenix 97-65 last weekend to secure the trophy.

The game was never in doubt as Riders dominated Phoenix throughout, unlike their match two days previously when the Glasgow Rocks took the game deep into the final quarter.

Fury's Fraser, who started the season in France but moved to Riders at the start of the BBL season, joins Fury Men’s Captain Keith Bunyan and former Fury star Ronnie Gordon in a coveted group of Scots who have won a British Basketball title.

Fraser was the difference for Riders in their key win over the Rocks with 21 points and eight rebounds.

Although he played limited minutes against Phoenix, the former Fury star had a strong season as a valuable member of a strong Riders side.

The 6’7 Scotland & GB forward now has to look forward to the BBL Play-Off Finals, where his Riders side will be number one seeds and will have the opportunity to add another title to a fantastic season for the Falkirk native.

“It has been a great season so far for the team,” said Fraser.

"I am happy I have been able to contribute and be a part of winning a Championship.

"After getting so close to winning a title last year with Glasgow, it is great to finally win one.

"With the League done, now our focus is the play-offs, where we hope to build on our successful League campaign".

Fury Headcoach John Bunyan commented: “Ali is one of the hardest working players you will find and deserves the success and enjoyment from winning a National title at the highest level of basketball in the UK.

"Ali has enjoyed great success not just with Fury but with Scotland in the Commonwealth Games and has seen the world with his basketball playing for GB, playing in the NCAA in the States and in Germany and France.

"It will be interesting to see if he will return to the Rocks as I am sure the Rocks will be back at the top end of the BBL next season and having Ali in that side would be a great plus for Scotland's only BBL side, just as it was two seasons ago."

Meanwhile, fellow former Fury players Jonny Bunyan and Fraser Malcolm ended their season on a high as they were at the heart of a crucial British Basketball League match in a losing effort to Fraser's Riders.

The Riders needed to defeat the Rocks and win their last game against Cheshire Phoenix to give Ali Fraser and his Riders side, the BBL Championship title.

But Fraser's former club and International team mates, despite going into the game with just seven players and no American imports, were certainly not rolling over as they blitzed the Riders 29-17 in the second quarter to bring the game to a nine point deficit going into the third period.

This was certainly not the script and the Rocks reduced the gap to four early in the third, as a low scoring third period saw the Rocks take it 12-10 and just a seven point gap going into the last period.

However, with a game the night before and limited rotations, the Rocks slipped out the match and Fraser ensured his side would take the match with 21 personal points and eight rebounds.

Less than 48 hours later the Rocks, in their final game of the season, faced the London Lions – a team second in the Championship.

It was former Fury star Fraser Malcolm who top scored with 16 points against the London side as he and Bunyan both started for the Rocks, holding the capital side at 19 apiece at the end of the first quarter.

The Lions hit a big shot on the half time buzzer to take a seven point lead into the third quarter.

Moving to 15 ahead by the third, the Lions took control as they moved to 19 ahead with little over four minutes to play in the match.

However, the Scottish side stunned the Londoners as they brought the game back to three points in the closing seconds, with the English team just taking the win 73-68.

It has been a tough season for Rocks which was hindered by limited practice compared to their English counterparts at certain stages of the season and the late entry and early exit of their Americans.

However, what it has shown is the great character and ability of the remaining players on the roster and for the Fury pair of Malcolm and Bunyan - some great games along the way.

Bunyan in his first season as Captain was motivational throughout, playing at times full games with solid point guard play and three point shooting and ending the season as the Leagues top free throw percentage shooter.

Bunyan played all 30 league games, averaging 25 minutes and six points per game.

Malcolm produced a really strong end to the season, becoming a serious three point shooting threat and showing he was more than a capable defensive player.

The Scots duo started in the majority of the Rocks games and along with Player/Coach Gareth Murray and Fergus Harte, showed there continues to be a lot of talent and potential in Scottish basketball.