THERE hasn’t been a Cork versus Kerry men's senior basketball cup final since 2007 but on Saturday, C&S Neptune and Garveys Tralee Warriors will clash in the Pat Duffy decider at the National Basketball Arena.
Thanks to the easing of restrictions, extra tickets have been made available for a game that promises to thrill the passionate and noisy supporters of both clubs. For the rest, it's live on TG4.
Neptune go into the game with plenty of confidence judging by their semi-final win over NUIG Maree and assistant coach Darren Geaney is looking forward to a cracking final.
“The guys know the title is within their grasp and now it’s about going on court and getting the business done as Tralee have a quality side but I do feel we match up to them well,” said Geaney.
This final has all ingredients of being a thrilling encounter as both teams possess a wealth of talent and Geaney believes it will all be about sticking to the plan that coach Colin O’Reilly will put into place.
“As many people know Colin is a master in preparing for games and he has studied the Tralee squad and know we have will have to work hard to break them down."
Neptune have two quality Americans in Miles Washington and Richaud Gittens and both bring different skills to the table.
Washington plays hard defence but it may be unwise that he guards the Tralee Bosman Nikola Rosa.
Rosa helped his team get over Eanna in a tight semi-final but what jumped out in the stats was he contributed 17 points in the first half and only mustered up a paltry three in the second.
Many issues contributed to the fact that Rosa only scored three points as Eanna changed their defence to zone and the Tralee players concentrated on shooting three-pointers.
Indeed when you look at the Tralee stats they make X-rated reading as out of the 36 attempts outside the arc they only managed to execute five.
Luckily the stats of Eanna was on the same par as they only made seven from the 31 shots attempted outside the three-point line.
Some of the substitutions made by Tralee in the semi-final were strange as Darragh O’Hanlon only played 17 minutes on court and for me was close to picking up MVP.
On the plus side to win a game with your Americans only contributing 13 points is serious going, as Aaron Calixte (7) and Brandon Colton (6) basically never showed up.
The Warriors will be expecting Calixte to have a big game in the final but if he depends on three-point shooting the rims have been known to be tight at Tallaght. Demons' U20s found that out on Friday night in their loss to Marian.
Neptune have two key Irish players in Cian Heaphy and Roy Downey.
Heaphy is presently playing the best basketball of his career and could be given the job of shutting down Eoin Quigley who had a superb semi-final with a 19-point tally.
Roy Downey has excelled all season and will want to lead his team to victory with Scott and James Hannigan ready to spring off the bench if it’s a high-tempo game.
In a game that is sure to be exciting and physical Neptune have a great opportunity to end that nine-year drought.