THERE will not be an empty seat on Saturday at the Ballincollig Community School (4pm) when Tradehouse Central Ballincollig host Donegal LYIT in the top of the table Men’s Division one National league.
Ballincollig will go into this game as slight favourites and the good news for the faithful is that American Andre Nation will return for this crucial game.
The bottom line is a win for Ballincollig would see them taking a huge step towards promotion to the Super League next season as coach Kieran O’Sullivan looked ahead to what he terms as a crucial game for his club.
“The last three weeks has been a testing period been as we had to play without Andre (Nation) but what can I say about my squad only that they are all heroes in the manner they’ve performed all season,” said Kieran O’Sullivan.
Last weekend the long trip to Sligo was Ballincollig’s latest test and they duly put in a superb performance with Ciaran O’Sullivan once again proving why he is the hottest property in Irish basketball.
O’Sullivan remains the best shooter in this country and in truth his talent is wasted playing in this division.
The return of Nation will certainly ensure a carnival atmosphere for this game and coach O’Sullivan is hoping his side produce a season best against a quality side.
“It’s good for basketball that a club like Donegal are ambitious as they signed some good professionals this season and we need to be at it from tip off,” added O’Sullivan.
The one plus for Ballincollig is they have some quality Irish players and in Dylan Corkery they have unearthed a great prospect that gives his team a little bit of everything.
Last season stalwart Ian McLoughlin produced some stunning performances but in this campaign, he hasn’t repeated those displays.
McLoughlin has experienced playing in the Super League with Neptune and is capable of making a significant contribution in helping Ballincollig reach the Holy Grail.
Donegal will test Ballincollig as they have a serious trio in Manny Peyton, Dom Uhi and Andy McGeever but on the other side of the coin they don’t have the required depth.
A game that will be keenly contested but for me, it’s Ballincollig to remain unbeaten.
Verdict: Tradehouse Central Ballincollig.
The other Cork side Fr Mathew’s make the trip to play Portlaoise Panthers hoping for a repeat performance of their win against Scott’s Lakers Killarney.
There is little doubt Mathew’s are a competitive side but they are lacking strength in depth with player-coach Darko Bucan only using two players from the bench against the Lakers.
When you have a 6' 8" post player like Paul O’Driscoll unable to get court time something is amiss as this player has served his club for many years competing against the elite in this division.
On the plus side the form of Jack O’Mahony has been riveting as his class is definitely a huge plus for this Mathew’s side.
American Jervis Pugh is effective but the Cork side will need to be careful as Portlaoise Panthers are effective on their home court with American Kareem Davis a slick outside shooter.
This game is a potential banana skin for Fr Mathew’s but on present form, they should have enough to see off the Midlanders.
Verdict: Fr Mathew’s.