IT will be all hands-on deck for Coughlan C & S Neptune as they get ready for tomorrow’s Pat Duffy National Cup semi- final clash with Griffith College Templeogue.
It has been a tough period for the Blackpool club as they have lost four consecutive league games but player coach Lehmon Colbert is confident his side can rise to the occasion.
“It certainly will be a tough challenge but one we will not shirk from and having put in a good week of preparation on the training court I firmly believe we will be ready to go against Templeogue,” said Lehmon Colbert.
When you are on the back of four defeats surely alarm bells start ringing but in the case of Colbert he doesn’t believe the results have shown the true picture of the games.
“I think Tralee was the one game where we can honestly put our hands up and admit we were defeated by a better side but how we lost the other three to Killorglin, Maree and UCD Marian is mind boggling,” added Colbert.
“The bottom line was the Killorglin game was taken away from us in normal time by a controversial buzzer beater and the manner of the opportunities missed against Maree and UCD Marian was clear to see so although it looks bad it is not unrepairable.” Colbert had a successful career when he played with UCC Demons that included going through an unbeaten season in 2014/15 and is very familiar to games of high importance.
“My one request to the players will be to leave everything on court and there is nothing more anyone can do if they battle to the wire because the eyes of the basketball public will be on us in this game.”
Neptune began the season well but as the season matured they have lost their form and some players need to assess where it’s all gone wrong?
Catalonian Nil Sabata looked a serious signing at the beginning of the campaign but he is one of the players that’s struggled in recent weeks.
When you have experienced playing at the Real Madrid Academy you should have that extra pace in your step and the excuses are over Sabata needs to show the Neptune faithful what he is all about?
It is hard to judge the resume of victory scholar Peter Hoffman as he has been used as a back- up to Colbert as only one American can be on court at any given time.
Hoffman looked pacey in some of his early season games but it’s hard to judge him in what we have witnessed to date but with Colbert due a physical game in his match up with Jason Killeen maybe this will be a game he will be given ample opportunity to show his true mettle.
At the start of the season Cian Heaphy was playing his best basketball and it will be interesting what role he will be given in this game as the job of stopping the athletic Lorcan Murphy could be his task.
Make no mistake Templeogue are a decent side but are very beatable as their American Darren Townes was only an average player when he once strutted his skills with Neptune and now at the tender age of 32 its hard to imagine him improving from his 2013 season on Leeside.
No doubt Jason Killeen is effective but in my book can be predictable in the offence court and Neptune have the players to restrict his influence.
For the Templeogue coach Mark Keenan coming to Cork is always a special occasion and he is looking forward to the challenge.
“I always enjoy my visits to Cork where I experienced some good and bad results but the basketball fraternity in the city love the sport and no doubt they will pack the Neptune stadium to back their team,” said Mark Keenan.
This game will could be decided in the manner how the Neptune Irish players perform as Kyle Hosford, Roy Downey and Cian Heaphy will be expected to contribute double figures.
The importance of coach Colbert getting his rotations and substitutions right will also be crucial as Templeogue are not a deep squad.
There is little doubt the Stadium will be rocking and for me if Neptune bring their A game to the table they will win but nothing less will suffice.
Verdict: Coughlan C & S Neptune.