IT'S a game that all Cork basketball fans have yearned for as UCC Demons host Emporium Cork Basketball in the Men’s Super League semi-final at the Mardyke Arena on Sunday (tip-off 4pm).
There is every chance the full house sign will be up before these teams go to war in a game that has all the ingredients of being a thrilling encounter.
Ironically it took two periods of overtime for each team to make this stage of the championship with Ballincollig defeating Eanna in Dublin and Demons overcoming Killester in another epic contest at the Mardyke Arena.
Ballincollig were impressive in their win over Eanna and the performance across double-overtime of their Spanish ace Jose Jimenez Gonzalez will give them plenty of confidence going into this crucial game. Make no mistake Gonzalez is a serious talent but tends to play on the edge and it will be interesting to see how he reacts in the cauldron of the Mardyke.
Keelan Cairns took a long time to show his true skills in the Ballincollig colours but is now a serious scoring threat along with Adrian O’Sullivan.
The one plus for Ballincollig is the rims at the Mardyke are ideal for quality shooters and American John Dawson will have an opportunity to showcase his class.
Demons were relieved to get over Killester as once again the energy shown by the Hannigan twins James and Scott helped them big time when defeat stared them in the face.
American MJ Randolph is getting some heavy defending from opposing teams in recent weeks and no doubt Ballincollig will do their best to curtail his influence. Kyle Hosford will need to be disciplined as he could also come in for some special attention and Kingsley Nwagboso has another chance to show his power at the post.
David Lehane showed true mettle when his team needed inspiration against Killester and Tala Fam will need to get back to his best as his recent performances have been below his best.
A game that could go either way and one that is bound to have the Dyke rocking with the prize on offer a place in the final of the biggest championship in Irish basketball at stake.
The Address UCC Glanmire begin their quest to retain their Champions Trophy title when they host Waterford Wildcats in the semi-final at the Mardyke Arena on Sunday (tip-off 1.30pm).
Coach Mark Scannell will be hoping his side put in a better shift than the one produced against the same opposition a fortnight ago in their closing game of the Women’s Super League.
It was obvious with the league title under their belt going into the game Glanmire were in a different mindset and coach Mark Scannell acknowledged that after the game. "I wouldn’t take anything from Wildcats but we did little preparation going into that game and were deservedly punished and I am hoping we will see a different scenario on this occasion."
Wildcats are a team that play on the edge but the one striking point in their win over Glanmire was the manner they shot the ball.
On the other side of the coin, the league champions were awful in the defending department a trait that coach Scannell prides himself on.
Scannell added: “We certainly have to play far better in defence and were well below our regular standard in our last game against Wildcats and I am confident we will be tuned in on this occasion.”
The Waterford side have balance and the Hickey sisters Kate and Sarah will pose Glanmire problems if not getting the required attention in the offence court.
Glanmire have a good American duo in Brittany Byrd and Khia Rasheed who on their best day are a handful for any defence. In the case of Byrd she plays with coolness personified but she will be aware her performance when these teams last met was questionable.
When you have stalwarts Aine McKenna and Claire O’Sullivan leading the charge surely Glanmire will take another step to completing another double in Irish basketball.