‘Life or death’ BBL Trophy win sets up Caledonia Gladiators’ lofty plans

Caledonia Gladiators players celebrate their BBL Trophy win
Caledonia Gladiators clinched their first trophy for 20 years at the Emirates Arena

Coming through a dramatic “life or death” BBL Trophy final sets up Caledonia Gladiators to meet their ambition to be the “biggest and best” in the UK, coach Gareth Murray says.

David Sloan’s last-second three-pointer clinched a 73-70 win over Cheshire Phoenix – and the title – in Glasgow.

It ended a 20-year wait for a trophy and a run of 10 final defeats.

“Different people were saying ‘it’s not life or death’ – but it was to me,” Murray said.

“It was life or death to me, honestly. This was the best opportunity we’d had in 20 years to win a trophy and it almost slipped away.

“The plans for the club and where we want to be, this is huge. It wasn’t just Caledonia Gladiators fans that were here today, it’s all these clubs coming and supporting us. People we’ve worked with over the years.

“They all came to celebrate. They all know how much it means to Scottish basketball.”

Under owners Steve and Alison Timoney, Gladiators have announced plans to move from the Emirates Arena in Glasgow to a £20m purpose-built facility in East Kilbride that will host 6,000 spectators.

Their men’s and women’s teams will play at a temporary facility in the South Lanarkshire town before the full arena is completed by 2026.

“The club is growing and growing,” Murray, who played in the club’s last final defeat, added.

“The community is really important for us, but not just Glasgow, the whole of Scotland. That’s the reason we’re called Caledonia – we want to represent the whole of Scotland.

“We’re the only professional basketball team in the country. And we want to be the biggest and best in the UK. We have ambitions of playing in Europe in the next couple of years.

“We’ve got to thank Steve and Alison for coming in and helping us live that dream and make it reality. We’ve talked about it, but they’ve come in and set the presence – this is where we want to go and we can do it.

“That wasn’t just for the Caledonia Gladiators today – it was for the whole of Scotland.”

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