VIGOR AIMING HIGH FOR SCOTS IN LAND OF OZ

With hoops at the Commonwealth Games starting on Thursday, we hear from Scotland’s Aussie import.

“We lived in a cul-de-sac,” Mike Vigor recounts. One way in, one way out.

For the first five years of his nascent life, the Scotland basketball centre called Aberdeen home, friends and his mother’s family close at hand. Then came upheaval, hitting the road on a childhood journey that spirited him to myriad stops – each related to his father’s work in the oil and gas trade – on each corner of the world.

The exoticism of Jakarta. The warmth of Western Australia. High rises of Singapore and the desert of Dubai. Nomads settling, then shifting once more. “Eventually, we got the chance to either go back to Scotland or back to Australia, which we really liked from the previous visit. And we chose to go back to Australia back in 2003 and we’ve been there ever since.”

Except in recent times, the 27-year-old has been based on the side of the world whence he came, featuring for Bristol Flyers in the British Basketball League. His accent is fairly ‘dinkum, his attitude too. But he is on temporary leave back Down Under, featuring for the land of his birth at the Commonwealth Games in the country that eventually became home.

A useful complement, no doubt, to the six-strong Glasgow Rocks contingent who make up the core of a Scotland side which will bid to improve on the sixth place achieved in Melbourne in 2006, the sole other occasion that the sport has featured at this event.

A product of Australia’s prodigious junior development system, and that of leading club Perth Wildcats, Vigor – like recently-appointed head coach Rob Beveridge – has only had the past week to properly integrate himself with his colleagues but accelerated assimilation is a trick he has long perfected.

“I have been well travelled and been there where you have to move at the drop of a pin – it’s something that I have done as a kid,” he says. “It does sort of lead into the itinerant basketball lifestyle. You kind of can know only a month before, two months before, where you’re going for the next season.”

With the initial group games against England, Cameroon and India held remotely from the main Games site in the northern outpost of Townsville, Vigor’s mother Kathy will fly cross-country from Perth to be among the most vocal of the Caledonian support. That Scotland can lean on a core contingent well-versed in each other’s strengths should be a huge advantage in Thursday’s pivotal opener against England, her son says.

As, he trusts, will be any insights he can provided on his coach at Bristol, Andreas Kapoulas, who is guiding the English charge. “He’s already said to me ‘don’t think that we’re just going to be out here running the same stuff,’” Vigor smiles. “He’s got a few tricks up his sleeve and some different stuff for the England team I’m sure. But, if I catch wind of anything or anything that we’ve done before of course I’ll be able to a head start and help out as much as I can for the Scottish team.”

Much will be expected of Great Britain internationals Kieron Achara and Gareth Murray, the old trusted cards in Scotland’s pack. The challenge, foremost, is to get out of the initial phase and into the second where the seeded giants of Australia, New Zealand and Canada await. The margins for error will be small, Vigor acknowledges. Every little helps, Vigor says, in negotiating a way out of the cul-de-sac.

“The advantage for me is I’ve played in Townsville before. I had my State Under-20’s, I represented Western Australia in Townsville, so I’ve been there before, been around the stadium. So I kind of know a bit of the rings and what-not and the surrounding area. And to have my family there and my partner’s family there, it’s going to be very special.”

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