ON Saturday, Coughlan C & S Neptune travel to play DCU Saints in the Men’s Pat Duffy National Cup quarter-final at the DCU complex.
Neptune will be favourites, having beaten the same opponents in a league game two weeks ago, but cup basketball can be unexpected and their coach, Lehmon Colbert, is taking nothing for granted.
“We defeated Saints in a tough game, but that doesn’t give us the entitlement to be complacent, as the cup has a tradition all on its own,” said Colbert.
Another bonus for Colbert is that he didn’t play in that game (he was injured) and nor did Catalonian star Nil Sabata.
In hindsight, Colbert should also have sat out the Belfast Star game, last weekend, as he now faces a race against time to be fit for the cup clash.
“When you are a basketball professional, it can be tough when a big decision comes your way and I felt my presence against Star was needed and I am hoping intense treatment this week will get me ready,” added Colbert.
Neptune struggled for three-quarters of their win over Star until Kyle Hosford caught the game by the scruff of the neck and guided his team over the line.
Hosford has struggled to score this season, but his latest display should give him a big boost for the remainder of the campaign. He was consistently in double digits when playing with UCC Demons and Neptune need him to produce high averages regularly.
Roy Downey also should be making a bigger impression at this level and Saints will test his credentials at both ends of the court.
Cian Heaphy is wonderful at doing the simple things and makes good players shine. In the opening game of the season, against Killorglin, Heaphy defended, rebounded, assisted, and scored, and if he can stick to what he does best, his team have a chance against the elite sides in this country.
Ger Noonan may be in the twilight of his career, but he is still able to produce moves and assists that young, aspiring players only dream of. Gary Walsh is also still capable of knocking down crucial shots and victory scholar, American Peter Hoffman, is a magnificent athlete.
Tomorrow’s opponents, DCU Saints, can be hard to predict and the presence of Martin Provizors will make them tougher opponents for this cup clash.
Irish players Eoin Darling, Charlie Coombes, and Kevin Lacey and former Neptune American Michael Bonaparte are also in their line-up. There is every chance this game will be closer than many pundits are predicting.
Neptune, on their best form, will win this game, but they have to put it to bed early, as Saints are dangerous when they are left to hang about.
On present form, its Neptune.
Verdict: Coughlan C & S Neptune.