Neptune bow out of National Cup after loss to Leixlip Zalgiris

Kildare outfit landed the big scores in the second half of the Intermediate National Cup semi-final
Neptune bow out of National Cup after loss to Leixlip Zalgiris

Neptune players Paul Keenan and Daniel Thompson disappointed after losing narrowly. Picture: Denis Minihane.

Leixlip Zalgiris 83 Neptune 76

A terrific exhibition of shooting from Kildare side Leixlip Zalgiris paved the way for a place into the final of the Men’s Intermediate National Cup at the Neptune Stadium on Sunday.

Mazvydas Cepilauskas gave the Kildare side the perfect start with a stunning three-pointer with the home side opting to play zone defence.

Aurimas Statkus was the next Leixlip player to expose Neptune’s defence with another outside the arc and he added another basket a minute later as the visitors raced into an eight-point lead.

Just when the game looked to be going against Neptune David Verma produced a stunning basket and bonus that reduced the deficit to four points.

Daniel Thompson eventually found his shooting range and when he nailed a long-range three-pointer with two minutes remaining the deficit was reduced to the minimum.

In the closing minutes, Neptune found another gear and a buzzer-beater from Shane Duggan saw them lead 26-20 entering the second quarter.

Both teams increased the tempo on the restart and with Neptune struggling to find baskets they introduced veteran Ger Noonan just four minutes into the quarter.

In fairness, Noonan made two fabulous assists but sadly his teammates were not reading from the same page as the teams were tied at 28 points each with five minutes remaining to the interval.

To be fair the Kildare side never looked fazed when Neptune went on a scoring spree and they took control in the closing minutes to the interval with the home side going into a slump.

Once again the pendulum swung and a Thompson three was followed by a Verma tip-in as the sides were tied on 40 points each with two minutes remaining.

Neptune's David Varma shoots a basket despite the efforts of Leixlip Zalgiris' Dalius Tamosauskis.
Neptune's David Varma shoots a basket despite the efforts of Leixlip Zalgiris' Dalius Tamosauskis.

The home side had the final say and after a really competitive half to led 42-40.

In the second half, both teams battled for supremacy but the shooting of Marius Kasperevicius punished them at will as they raced into a 60-52 lead heading into the final quarter.

Credit to Neptune they battled to the wire but their inability to close down the Leixlip shooters proved their downfall after a highly competitive game.

Scorers for Leixlip Zalgiris: M Kasperavicius 24, A Statkus 17, J Butkevicius 14.

Neptune: D Varma 26, D Thompson 13, G Noonan 8.

NEPTUNE: J O’Donoghue, P Keenan, P O’Brien, D Thompson, E Barrett, D Varma, G Krisciunas, P Grinevicius, S Duggan, R Jasevicius, G Noonan, J Field, I Skeirys.

ZALGIRIS: V Gustys, J Butkevicius, K Damulevisius, A Urnikis, A Statkus, D Tamosauskis, E Rakauskas, M Ceplisauskas, A Lekavicius, M Bickus, E Pocius, R Smitas.

Referees: H Byrne (Dublin), J McEvoy (Dublin).

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