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Tornadoes duo get GB call

TWO Lockerbie basketball players have been selected to represent Great Britain at a masters tournament in Italy this summer.

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By Zac Hannay
Sport
Tornadoes duo get GB call
COUNTRY CALL . . . basketballers Keith Bunyan, Scotty Russell and Stuart Mackay will represent GB in Italy this summer

Stuart Mackay and Keith Bunyan both still play at club level for Lockerbie Tornadoes in the Strathclyde League.

And the former professional players are aiming to pull on GB jerseys as part of the Over 45s squad in Pesaro in June.

The XII FIMBA MaxiBasketball European Championships are scheduled from June 21-30.

The masters basketball set-up is an elite performance programme for those over the age of 35. It allows players to continue competing in a highly competitive setting.

Stuart, who is based in Dumfries, now works for Loreburn Housing Association after previously being a professional basketball player.

The 47-year-old last represented GB in 2022 at the European Championships in Malaga.

Keith, 46, is an active-schools co-ordinator at Falkirk Council.

He is currently on the road to recovery after overcoming serious illness. He has been travelling down to play with Lockerbie this year to get himself match fit.

In preparation for the tournament, the team have been training in Nottingham.

They are also on the hunt for sponsors to help to cover the costs associated with the trip.

Stuart said: “I’m really looking forward to it. It’s a great opportunity to still play at a high level at my age.

“It is a big honour to play for GB and it is an elite programme. It’s inspirational to a degree that you can still play and compete regardless of your age.

“I think that’s a big thing, because there is that saying that athletes die twice. Being able to still play and represent at a European competition is phenomenal.

“Myself and Keith have played together professionally, as well as with Falkirk and Scotland.

“There are a few ex-professionals in the team. It’s quite a high standard.

“Basketball has always been there and it’s always something that I’ve turned to. My opinion now is if I can keep doing it, then I’ll keep doing it until I can’t, because at one point my knees or ankles will give up.”

Stuart added: “Basketball is a minority sport in the UK, we’ve got to pay for everything ourselves.

“We have a GoFundMe page that we’re aiming to raise some funds with. But we’re also looking to see if we can try and get a bit of interest in sponsorship.”

At club level, Stuart has been involved with the Tornadoes since moving to the area just over ten years ago.

The team beat Ayr in the league on Tuesday night and are in a semi-final of a cup competition next month.

He said: “It’s one of the teams that I’ve enjoyed the most in my career.

“It’s a great group of guys. We all take care of each other and look out for each other.

“We have also started off junior basketball as well before our training sessions. It’s been brilliant and a lot of fun to do.”

The GoFundMe fundraising page can be accessed at gofundme.com/f/pesaro-or-bust

More on the masters basketball programme can be found at gbmaxibasketball.co.uk/

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