“One game at a time” is the mantra that’s been repeated ad-nauseam in the Caledonia Gladiators camp this week.

Gladiators’ women’s team know they’re just 80 minutes away from the biggest result in their history.

But before they can start thinking about a final appearance in the WBBL play-offs, never mind overall victory, they’ve got a job to do in their semi-final.

Today, Caledonia Gladiators will face Newcastle Eagles in the WBBL Play-Off semi-finals and despite going in as heavy favourites for this last-four game, any thoughts of reaching the final have been entirely banished from the players’ minds.

One of the chief protagonists in ensuring the team remains focused solely on their battle with Newcastle is Hannah Robb.

The 26-year-old guard, who is also a GB internationalist, has a wealth of experience and knows all too well the dangers of any complacency creeping in.

Newcastle gave Gladiators a welcome reminder, if any was needed, that league placings are irrelevant, with the English side defying the odds to sneak past Sheffield Hatters in the play-off quarter-finals a week ago in the same weekend that Gladiators comfortably defeated Durham Palatinates to reach the last four.

“We were really happy to get through our quarter-final, and especially with how we won it – we were high-energy and had loads of intensity,” says Robb ahead of this evening’s fixture, which will tip-off at 5pm at Gladiators’ home arena in East Kilbride.

“But it’s the play-offs so anything can happen. 

“Newcastle pulled off an upset against Sheffield and so they’ll have a lot of confidence from that. 

“But the big thing is for us is to focus on ourselves – we’re confident in our abilities and what we can do as a team but we’re not complacent. 

“There’s always that bit more excitement and pressure when it’s the play-offs so we’re trying to stay disciplined. Newcastle will be coming to beat us but we’re ready for that.”

The Herald: Hannah Robb has been in excellent form this seasonHannah Robb has been in excellent form this season (Image: Caledonia Gladiators)

Gladiators’ form this season has entirely vindicated Arbroath native Robb’s decision to return home to Scotland last summer having spent three seasons at Leicester Riders, during which she achieved considerable success including a play-off final appearance a year ago.

But this year’s run to the final has been of little surprise to Robb - on signing for Gladiators, she had high expectations of the Scottish side and so their form this season, which saw them finish in second-place in the WBBL, was exactly what she had anticipated.

“This is how well I expected the team would do,” she says.

“The vision of the club and the efforts of everyone to make this the professional environment that it is was exactly why I wanted to come back to Scotland. And it’s paid off.”

What has been of considerable importance to Robb is the Scottish identity of the club; owners Steve and Alison Timoney have put in considerable effort to ensure the club is Scottish in much more than name and for that, Robb, is entirely grateful.

“The club is very Scottish - Steve and Alison have done a great job of making sure our Scottish roots are very visible and we really hone-in on the fact we’re a Scottish club. And so it feels very special to me to represent this club and represent Scotland,” she says.

“When I was younger, I never could have imagined playing at a club like this in Scotland. It’s been like a dream come true to have this for basketball in Scotland and especially women’s basketball.

“So being Scottish myself, it just means that little bit more to be a part of it.”

There is an extra layer of pressure upon Robb and her teammates shoulders this evening in light of the fact the women’s side are flying the Gladiators’ flag alone following the unexpected defeat of the men’s side in the BBL Play-Off quarter-finals last weekend. 

Robb is not oblivious to that pressure but the drive to win Gladiators’ women’s side’s first-ever trophy will, she hopes, help rather than hinder their performance and ensure they move past Newcastle this evening and into next weekend’s play-off final.

“It’d be huge for us to reach the final,” she says. 

“The ultimate goal is to bring the trophy back to Scotland and although we know we need to focus on our semi-final before we look to the final, we all know it would be a huge achievement for everyone who supports this club if we were able to get our hands on that trophy.

“There is that little bit extra pressure now we’re the last team in the play-offs for Gladiators but we have the support of the whole club and that’ll hopefully give us that extra little push we need to get us into the final.”