WBBL: Caledonia Pride 'proving their worth' - Sarah Thomson

Caledonia Pride players
Caledonia Pride will play Leicester in the WBBL play-offs

Caledonia Pride are no longer viewed as an easy target in the Women's British Basketball League, according to point guard Sarah Thomson.

Scotland's first female professional team won just five of 18 games during a difficult debut season last year.

But in their second campaign, Pride have reached a maiden play-off against Leicester Riders on Sunday.

"At the very beginning of last year we were getting beaten by 40 points," Thomson, 22, told BBC Scotland.

"And while we have had the occasional win this year, we've competed with every single team we've played against.

"We're stepping up our competitive edge and proving why we should be in the league, despite the obstacles we face."

'We could've made it higher up the table'

Edinburgh-based Pride finished seventh in the 11-team WBBL this year, two places higher than their first campaign, with the top eight qualifying for the play-offs.

In January they featured in their first-ever cup final, losing the WBBL League Cup showpiece 70-66 to Nottingham Panthers.

Thomson admits Leicester, last year's league runners-up, will present a significant challenge, having beaten Pride twice this season.

Sarah Thomson
Point guard Thomson (right) has played for Caledonia Pride since its inception

"It's really massive for us, there's been more teams in the league this year so we knew it would be harder to get into the play-offs," Thomson said of their campaign.

"If we're being critical, we could've made it higher up the table but we are happy in comparison to last year.

"We've really, not outdone ourselves, but proved we can be competitive with other teams, so that's really positive for us.

"Leicester are a great team with huge numbers, which we don't have, and have only lost one game this season in the league.

"As long as we compete and leave knowing we have done everything we could regardless of the result."

Scotland 'being taken seriously'

Caledonia Pride was created to drive Scottish women's basketball to a higher level while inspiring girls to take up the sport, joining Scotland's only male professional franchise, Glasgow Rocks.

While the women failed to qualify, Thomson believes the performances of the male players at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, where the Scots reached the semi-finals, will help boost basketball participation and popularity in Scotland.

Team Scotland basketball players
Team Scotland's basketball players made the semi-finals at the Commonwealth Games

"There's definitely still work to be done, but the fact the men got that far is massive - even the Facebook followers went up by 2-3,000 over a few days when they were competing," she said.

"It's great to have the professional and national teams really showing they can be successful and [have] Scotland taken seriously.

"As a smaller nation we may have one team in each but we're definitely taking our one teams to the max.

"We [Pride] have someone who's just turned 16, a couple of 17-year-olds and players who are 18 and 19. They've got their whole career ahead of them and definite potential, so it's about inspiring and motivating them.

"Also for youth teams knowing they've got one of the best pathways in the leagues to come through now - they don't have to leave Scotland to compete anymore if they don't want to."

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