C & S Neptune 72 Garvey’s Tralee Warriors 78
GARVEY'S Tralee Warriors were crowned Men’s Super League champions following a thrilling win over C & S Neptune at the National Basketball Arena on Saturday.
In a game that could have gone either way, Neptune’s failure to produce baskets when the game hung in the balance proved fatal.
Neptune were simply awesome in the opening quarter as the shooting and movement of their players was incredible as they raced into 19-point lead midway through this period. The Cork side were hitting shots inside and outside the arc as the Warriors looked bewildered.
A time-out by the Warriors coach was a wise one as his side gradually matched up in defence and the introduction of Kieran Donaghy brought stability as they reduced the lead to four points with a minute remaining.
The Tralee side now looked the dominant team but a late Roy Downey three-pointer helped Neptune lead 28-25 following a pulsating first half.
On the restart, the tempo of the game remained at fever pitch but the big difference now was that the Warriors' shooting had improved immensely. Neptune did use various rotations but Sabata after a solid start was now struggling to make an impact in the offensive court.
Despite the fact that Tralee had only made 7/22 from outside the arc they did manage to execute key baskets with Eoin Quigley playing superbly.
The problem that Neptune were encountering was getting shots off as they simply were being denied clear looks by some wonderful Tralee defending.
In the closing minutes both sides missed easy tips but after another stunning 10 minutes of wonderful basketball Neptune were just about still in control when commanding a 42-38 interval lead.
On the restart, a spin from Nil Sabata pushed it out to six but he followed up when picking up a silly third foul.
The tension was clear to see as both sides began making elementary mistakes but Neptune continued to struggle in the scoring department as the Warriors continued to chip away at their lead.
All season Neptune’s American duo of Miles Washington and Richaud Gittens have struggled in the scoring charts with the latter only contributing two points in the opening 28 minutes.
Cian Heaphy picked up his fourth foul in this period but the game was still on a knife-edge with a minute remaining with Neptune holding a three-point lead.
The Blackpool outfit finished stronger and a stunning Washington block on Daniel Jokubaitis ensured they had a six-point cushion 60-54 heading into the crucial final quarter.
Sabata once again started well with a neat drive to the hoop that was followed by a stunning dunk.
The Warriors coach John Dowling called a time out with 7.52 with his side trailing by seven points but it was still very game on as Darragh O’Hanlon nailed a three on the resumption.
Neptune missed some easy tips coming down the stretch and following a Niko Rosa basket the Kerry side edged ahead by the minimum.
The pendulum swung in the Warriors' direction as they completed the double in some style.