Neptune semi final against Maree is no slam dunk but home side fancied to make the final

Neptune semi final against Maree is no slam dunk but home side fancied to make the final

C & S Neptune's Roy Downey lays up a basket against DCU Saints during the Mens Super League at the Neptune stadium. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

A big night tomorrow, Saturday, for C&S Neptune in the Pat Duffy Men’s National Cup when they clash with NUIG Maree in the semi-final at the Neptune stadium.

Many pundits are predicting a Neptune win but captain Roy Downey is warning his teammates against complacency.

“To be honest I think NUIG Maree are similar to ourselves as they have a few players capable of going into double figures and they have two excellent Americans that makes them a formidable unit,” said Roy Downey.

In recent years Neptune have hit the post losing in 2020 to Templeogue at this stage who later went on to win the final in a canter and Downey is hoping there will be mistakes on this occasion.

“To be fair our coach Colin O’Reilly will not allow complacency as he knows all about this championship and semi-finals are all about getting the win as we missed 16 free throws when we lost to Templeogue and hopefully that experience will stand to us,” added Downey.

Before the Christmas break Neptune defeated Bright DCU Saints but Downey believes their first half performance wasn’t good enough.

“On the plus side we learned how bad we can be but on the other side of the coin we showed a very good side to our game and that’s the level we need to be at against Maree.” 

C & S Neptune's Nil Sabata takes on DCU Saints' Alin Costache during the Mens Super League at the Neptune stadium. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
C & S Neptune's Nil Sabata takes on DCU Saints' Alin Costache during the Mens Super League at the Neptune stadium. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Outside of their Super League being cancelled against Moycullen on Monday Neptune have been at full pelt according to Downey.

“We have had some great sessions and the team are in good spirits so now it’s a case of getting the job done as this is a great opportunity for us on our home court.” Presently Neptune have two Americans and both will have significant contributions to make in this semi-final.

“Miles Washington is a superb defender who has been coming into his own as is also an excellent shooter and our second American Richaud Gittens is different but aggressive and is very effective.” 

The form of Catalonian Nil Sabata has certainly lifted spirits at the Blackpool club and with Cian Heaphy playing the best basketball of his career at this level the Cork side have every chance of making it to the decider.

Neptune will also welcome back their ace Spanish point guard Aleix Tarradellas who has yet to play this season.

Tarradellas is highly rated and was shaping well preseason before picking up an ankle injury and its hard to know what to expect from him after being sidelined for four months.

The mood in the NUIG Maree camp is positive as they were one of few team to play last week in the Men’s Super League when getting the better of Killorglin.

The Galway side have produced some sterling performances this season and coach Charlie Crowley is hoping his side can play to their potential.

“It’s a huge game for us but I think Neptune will have a lot more pressure on them playing on their home court but I do envisage a very competitive game,” said Charlie Crowley.

The last time these teams met Neptune came out on top after producing champagne basketball in the last quarter and coach Crowley believes this will be another close encounter.

“I think this season the league is very tight and I have a squad who are capable of toppling any side on a good day but a cup semi-final brings its own pressures and I honestly believe this will a very close game that hopefully we can produce the goods in when it matters,” added Crowley.

The westerners produced some good basketball last weekend and have some quality Americans in Deondre Jackson and Jeryn Lucas as Crowley praised both players.

C & S Neptune coach Colin O'Reilly delivering a team talk against DCU Saints during the Mens Super League at the Neptune stadium. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
C & S Neptune coach Colin O'Reilly delivering a team talk against DCU Saints during the Mens Super League at the Neptune stadium. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

“Deondre and Jeryn complement one another but I think any coach will tell you it’s the Irish players that usually win you games of this magnitude.

“The Americans in both sides usually cancel one another out and when the game hangs in the balance you are always hoping your Irish players produce the business.” 

Maree do possess quality Irish players with Eoin Rockall the player who dictates the pace for the Galway outfit.

Rockall is also a good shooter and his battle with Roy Downey will be an interesting tussle.

Paul Freeman is now one of the veterans in the Maree side but his experience and strength cannot go unnoticed by Neptune.

The one plus Neptune have is the experience of player coach Colin O’Reilly who knows how to prepare teams for big games.

O’Reilly is also a quality player and will not be afraid to take the clutch shots if his team needs help in that department.

The one guarantee you get on semi-final weekend at the Neptune stadium is a carnival atmosphere and this game has all the ingredients of being a thriller.

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