Tonight, Caledonia Gladiators make history, as they become the first Scottish team to ever compete in the second round of European competition, as they face Hungary’s NKA Universitas Pécs during their opening EuroCup Women’s Playoff fixture in Pécs, Hungary at 5 PM.
Miguel Ortega’s side had an impressive group stage run, going unbeaten until the final game away to Basket Namur Capitale where they lost 65-50. The side won both of their home games, coming out with a huge win over European giants, Benfica, during their PlaySport debut.
Although for the past few decades, Scottish women’s sides haven’t been a feature in Europe, there was a time when squads from the country competed on occasion.
On 8th Nov 1969, the All Blacks became the first women’s team from the British Isles to enter a major European competition when they hosted CREFF Madrid at Telford College in the FIBA Champions Cup. The Spaniards held a slender six-point lead at halftime. They eventually left Scotland with a 72-49 win and wrapped up the two-legged tie back in Madrid the following week.
The All Blacks – winners of 9 x Scottish Cups between 1965 and 1976 – competed in the Champions Cup twice more, losing in the opening round to AMVJ Amsterdam (224-74) and Le Logis (126-85) in 1970 and 1971, respectively.
Central YMCA – another Edinburgh-based team and winners of 3x Scottish Cups of their own – made the leap into Europe in 1973, but lost to Slavia Prague (202-69).
This year’s Gladiators side also made headlines in the earlier stages of the tournament, as they became the first Scottish side to record a win in the EuroCup.
About the Opponents
Now, after securing the 5th seed, they face the challenge of 26-seeded NKA Universitas Pécs, who play domestically out of the Hungarian Championship, the country’s top division. In their group with Umana Reyer Venice, Bursa Uludag Basketbol, and ZKK Ragusa Dubrovnik, they finished third, recording a win over Bursa, and two against Ragusa.
The side is led by GB international point guard, Sydney Wallace, who averaged 15 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 1 SPG and 1.5 APG across the two European games she played.
Catch tonight’s fixture LIVE on FIBA’s YouTube channel, with coverage starting live at 5 PM.
Following the away leg this evening, Gladiators play host at PlaySport a week today, welcoming their third European opponent to East Kilbride. Get your tickets HERE!