C&S NEPTUNE are sure to face the acid test when they travel to play Killester in the Pat Duffy Men’s National Cup quarter-final at the IWA Clontarf tomorrow.
This is a repeat of a league game played at the same venue a fortnight ago when Neptune comprehensively won, but Roy Downey knows this will be a far tougher challenge.
“We did play well enough in our last game against them, but we know that defeat will have hurt them and there is bound to be a reaction on Saturday,” said Downey.
The Neptune captain knows that a win will almost certainly give them a home semi-final, going on the basis of Basketball Ireland's format in recent seasons, and that will hopefully give his side the required desire.
Downey added: “I think we are improving as a team, but cup basketball is all about having bottle for the battle and hopefully the lads will keep focused on the job.”
Neptune, to their credit, have played reasonably well all season, but this is a game that Colin O’Reilly knows his side must be at their best in to get a win at what is a tricky venue.
Cian Heaphy is playing the best basketball of his career and the Neptune ace can count himself unlucky to be omitted from the Irish senior team having made the extended panel. He is a serious athlete and his shooting has improved big time under the Neptune coaching staff.
American Miles Washington, although not putting up consistent numbers, is a great defender and shot blocker and when the sides last met he showed some great defensive touches.
Coach O’Reilly now seems to have unlocked the secret of how to get the best from Catalonian Nil Sabata who is warrior at both ends of the court.
Sabata contributed 28 points when the sides last clashed and Neptune will need another top game from him if they are to progress to the next round.
The Hannigan twins, James and Scott, are progressing at this level and Gary Walsh will need to show his best shooting skills if given the chance by his coach.
Killester have a decent American in Kasson Harrel who was poor when the sides last clashed and he will be determined to improve.
Johnny Behan and Michael Westbrooks are veterans, but smart basketball players, and Ciaran Roe has been known to make a big impression in games of this magnitude.
A tough game to call, but I will sway for a Neptune win if they play to their strengths.
Verdict: C & S Neptune.
There is also a big game in the Presidents Cup quarter-final with Fr Mathews hosting UCC Demons at the Fr Mathew’s Arena, 7.45pm on Saturday night.
Demons go into the game as favourites on the back of an unbeaten league run, including a win over Fr Mathews.
That game wasn’t decided until the closing minutes and Mathews will feel they have a chance of toppling their Cork rivals. It will be a debut for Demons’ Danish signing Toby Christensen and the 6' 7" forward will be the toast of the Sunday’s Well club if he could guide them to the semi-final.
Captain Kyle Hosford has been gaining valuable experience with the Irish senior team and he will have a major part to play in this game.
Fr Mathew’s have a decent young squad and in Jack O’Mahony, who once donned the colours of UCC Demons while attending college, you have a player whose athleticism and determination could pose his former club problems.
Mathew’s American Jonathon Garcia is quick and again Demons will have to nullify his threat.
Demons have quality through the squad and Spanish ace Tala Thiam Fam is a superb talent who has been with the club for the past five years.
Ryan Murphy, Jack O’Leary, Kevin Moynihan, and Blake Murphy are all quality players who will have a part to play if called upon by coach Danny O’Mahony.
This quarter-final is sure to attract a good attendance to the Model Farm Road venue and although Mathew’s have home-court advantage Demons strength in depth should shade it.
Verdict: UCC Demons.