ENERGYWISE Ireland Neptune lost their unbeaten record in the Men’s Super League going down to NUIG Maree at the Kingfisher complex.
The Cork side went into the game minus their influential Catalonian ace Nil Sabata with fellow Bosman Xabier Arriaga also sidelined with a groin injury.
Credit to Neptune they played some wonderful basketball in the first half and with Roy Downey back to his best in the offence court they soon commanded a six-point lead. Gradually the westerners began finding their range and with Eoin Rockall having a season-best they were soon back on parity.
The Cork side responded, and a late Cian Heaphy basket saw them lead 20-19 entering the second period. In the second quarter, both sides went for the jugular but with Rockall continuing to pose Neptune problems at the post Maree led by four points at the break.
Jordan Blount is playing tremendous basketball this season finishing with a game-high 29 points, but Neptune trailed 65-57 entering the final period.
Coming down the stretch Neptune tested the credentials of this crack Maree outfit but in the end, came up short.
For the Maree coach Charlie Crowley this was a win to savour but was rather philosophical in summing up his team’s win, Crowley said: “The win was important having lost at UCC Demons, but we have to be realistic Neptune were missing Nil Sabata and Xavier Arriaga.
“I have never coached a team to defeat Neptune at this level so that’s a good feeling and yes we are happy to defeat a very good side.”
Maree are rated very highly this season, but coach Crowley believes it’s too early to be making predictions about silverware.
We take it one game at a time and will not look further than next weekend’s cup game against Killorglin and that will be another huge test.”
Emporium Cork Basketball had to dig deep in the fourth quarter before getting the better of Flexachem Killorglin 84-81.
In a highly competitive game, the Ballincollig outfit began playing high-tempo basketball and with American John Dawson shooting well they soon commanded a six-point lead.
Killorglin consistently attract a boisterous home support and they lifted their team in the closing minutes of the opening quarter to lead 27-25.
On the restart, the shooting of Pharroh Gordon posed Ballincollig problems and the Cork outfit needed to play some good defence to keep various Killorglin shooting threats at bay.
The Kerry side rely mainly on Americans and Bosman players, and they looked in good shape at the break when commanding a 49-46 lead.
Defence from both sides came to the fore in the third quarter and a late basket from American Robert Alan Kelly Jnr increased the Killorglin lead to five points entering the final quarter.
When Ballincollig needed inspiration Adrian O’Sullivan produced key baskets coming down the stretch as the teams were on parity with three minutes remaining.
In the end, Ballincollig’s ability to shoot crucial free throws gained them a deserved win much to the delight of assistant coach Daniel O’Sullivan. “Winning any game on the road is always tough in this league but Killorglin are a much-improved squad and we had to dig deep coming down the stretch.”
The Ballincollig assistant is confident there is plenty of improving in their squad but is happy at this stage of the season. “I think the way we refused to panic against a talented team shows we are maturing and hopefully we can continue to progress as the season reaches the various crucial stages.”