Spanish basketball newcomers sizzle on the court for Neptune and Ballincollig

Spanish basketball newcomers sizzle on the court for Neptune and Ballincollig
Neptune's Lehmon Colbert scores despite the efforts of Killorglin's Dan Griffin, during their Men's Super League clash at Neptune Stadium.Picture: David Keane.

C & S Neptune 88 Keane’s SuperValu Killorglin 71

A MAGNIFICENT first half from Coughlan C & S Neptune paved the way for a comfortable win over Keane’s SuperValu Killorglin before a good attendance at the Neptune Stadium on Saturday.

Maybe a little soon to be making predictions about how the Cork side will fare in this campaign but the one guarantee is the fans will get value for money at the home of basketball this season. In my many years covering Neptune games at this venue this was probably the classiest opening 20 minutes witnessed by yours truly.

So what has changed at Neptune for the coming campaign? First of all they made a superb signing with their Spanish star Nil Sabata and it looks like the Neptune faithful have fallen in love with him already. Sabata is unorthodox but very effective and after learning his skills at the Real Madrid Academy he could be Neptune’s Ronaldo in this campaign.

Neptune's Nil Sabata shoots under pressure from Killorglin's Darragh Jones. Picture: David Keane.
Neptune's Nil Sabata shoots under pressure from Killorglin's Darragh Jones. Picture: David Keane.

The opening quarter was all about class and flair from the home side and when player-coach Lehmon Colbert nailed a three-pointer in the fourth minute they had raced into a healthy 10-point lead.

Killorglin looked disorganised and were struggling to match Neptune’s intensity and it was fitting Neptune would finish this period with a stunning Adam Heaphy buzzer-beater that gave them a 27-15 lead.

Another positive for Neptune this season is the quality of their victory scholar American Peter Hoffman who is athletic and quick and another player who will make an impact in this league.

On the restart, Neptune increased the tempo and such was their dominance they had increased their lead to 20 points with three minutes remaining to the interval.

Players like James Hannigan and Kyle Hosford were playing solid defence that restricted the Killorglin player-coach Colin O’Reilly to his first basket in the 18th minute.

In the closing minutes, Killorglin looked all at sea and the game looked over as a contest at the break with Neptune having a 25-point cushion 55-30.

The one negative for Neptune is that they dropped their intensity in the second half but Gary Walsh managed to drain a stunning three-pointer that helped the home side maintain a 70-50 lead entering the final quarter.

Although Neptune huffed and puffed that ultimately saw Killorglin reduce the deficit to nine points the plus side was their ability to respond to the wake- up call.

In the closing minutes, they regained total control and for player-coach Lehmon Colbert it was the perfect start to the season.

“I am relatively pleased in how we performed tonight and despite us dropping some intensity in the second half overall it was a solid performance but no trophies are handed out in September and we will be at it hard again on Monday in training,” said Lehmon Colbert.

Scorers for Neptune: N Sabata 20, P Hoffman 12, L Colbert 12.

Killorglin: A Thomas 15, D Jones 11, P Skurdauskas 11.

Tradehouse Central Ballincollig 82 Limerick Sports Eagles 55

TRADEHOUSE Central Ballincollig got their Men’s Division 1 campaign off to a winning start with a comfortable win over Limerick Sports Eagles at Ballincollig Community School on Saturday.

Not the greatest game witnessed at the mid-Cork venue but Ballincollig will be pleased to put in a solid performance without their ace American Andre Nation. On the other side of the coin, the performances of Ciarán O’Sullivan and Inigio Zabola ensured their 21 points contributions apiece was good enough to see their team see off the Shannonsiders.

In the opening quarter the home side got a decent start and when Ciarán O’Sullivan nailed a three-pointer in the third minute it gave them a 9-2 lead.

With Ballincollig scoring at will it was no surprise they had extended their lead to 11 points with three minutes remaining in this period. The visitors rallied and a Vadjikiba Dosso basket reduced the deficit to five points in the closing minute. Ciarán O’Sullivan showed his experience and eye for the basket with a stunning buzzer-beater three-pointer that ensured a 23-15 lead entering the second period.

On the restart, the Eagles went into meltdown as the outstanding three-point shooting of Ciaran O’Sullivan kept them at bay. Ballincollig have signed a decent Spanish star in Inigio Zabola and his ability to take the ball to the hoop posed the Eagles defence all sorts of problems. It was no surprise they commanded a comfortable 43-25 interval lead.

In the third quarter, Ballincollig’s class told and with Jack Kelly doing a mountain of work at the post they had a 20-point lead entering the final period.

The other Cork side in the Men’s Division 1 Fr Mathew’s got their season off to a perfect start when they won at Tolka Rovers 73-64.

Jack O’Mahony marked his comeback for Fr Mathew’s with a superb 18-point tally as player-coach Darko Bucan guided his side to an impressive win in the capital.

Scorers for Tradehouse Central Ballincollig: C O’Sullivan 21, I Zabola 21, J Kelly 10.

Limerick Sports Eagles: V Dosso 18, R Dupler 12, J McAuliffe 7.

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