The result meant everything to Caledonia Gladiators coach Gareth Murray, but it was not what he had imagined.
The final possession that led to David Sloan’s Trophy-winning basket was chaotic and a little rushed. However, the five heroes on the court all worked together, and regardless of how Murray drew the play up – it was executed.
And as a result, Caledonia Gladiators recorded a come-from-behind 73-70 win over the Cheshire Phoenix in front of 6,000 fans at Glasgow’s Emirates Arena.
“It wasn’t exactly how I drew it up, but it was picture-perfect any way you look at it. I had full confidence that David would hit that shot,” Murray said.
“My feeling is complete joy. I was disappointed not to bring a trophy to the club as a player, but having won it as a coach and with the talented, unselfish and decent guys we have on the team, this win makes up for it, without doubt, and it couldn’t have happened in a better place than in Glasgow.”
Familiar with clocking air and road miles and leaving his loved ones behind on away days, finally, the coach could savour this moment with his family, friends, old coaches that mentored him in his junior playing days and fans of basketball in Scotland.
Murray, along with Caledonia, have had to wait 20 years for this moment. But good things come to those who wait.
“There are people not just from Glasgow here; there are loads of people that have messaged me,” Murray explained. “My junior coach from Arbroath (was) here, guys from Stirling, guys from up north, all over Scotland came to witness this, and I’m so glad we were able to do this for them.
“For me, to be a player that’s played for this club for a number of years, for the guys like Jonny (Bunyan) Ali Fraser, Kyle (Jimenez), the guys that have played for the club as well and for our Americans, experiencing life in Scotland and know of our love and passion for the game, this Trophy win will live on for a long time.”
It will undoubtedly live on within Sloan, who buried the game-winner. He knows the history and Caledonia’s past ‘near misses’. However, hitting the BBL Trophy jackpot could open the door to more success.
“It was my goal to bring a championship, and we have the perfect team to do it,” Sloan stated.
“We’ve had some ups and downs throughout the season, but we’re starting to find our feet at the right time and it’s a great feeling to win the Trophy for the people here today and for Scotland. This is a great feeling, and now we want more.”
And a special home-coming is in store on Sunday (2 April), when Caledonia host Manchester Giants at the Emirates.
To be part of the action, you can purchase tickets here or catch the action on our YouTube channel here.