Local bragging rights are up for grabs across the country in the Nivea for Men and Nivea Women’s Superleagues this weekend with derby games in Dublin, Limerick and Waterford.
On Saturday both the Killester men and women face off against local north Dublin rivals in DCU Saints and Meteors in the IWA, Clontarf.
In the Nivea for Men’s Superleague clash, Killester will hope that the friendly confines of their home court and what should be a big crowd, will guide them back to winning ways following their 25-point trashing at the hands of UL Eagles a week ago.
Despite that loss, Killester will see themselves as title contenders and along with Saints will be anxious to avoid slipping to a losing record as both have lost and won one game so far this year.
With both teams under sized in comparison to years past, their strengths lie in their respective perimeter games. Even with that considered, the winning or losing on Saturday is likely to come down to who can cope better inside and control the rebounds that will allow their backcourt talent to push the fast break.
In Limerick it is a regional rivalry on offer as the two western clubs in the division lock horns with Moycullen of Galway travelling to take on UL Eagles.
While it appears an ominous fixture for the young Galway outfit, they will travel with a quiet optimism courtesy of a memorable win against the odds in Galway last season when the two teams met.
“We know that Limerick are one of the best teams in the league but we have to try and use our strengths and take the game to them,” said Moycullen player-coach Salva Camps.
Camps has blooded a number of young Under 20 players already in this campaign and in the absence of guard Cian Nihill again this weekend, will be looking for these youngsters to take on a significant role Saturday.
“The young guys have done well but they can do better. They are still learning about playing in this league. It is a big move up to Superleague from underage and they need to get used to this.”
Limerick will not be the easiest of environments to follow this learning curve however and Mark Keenan’s charges will be expecting to notch their third win in as many games.
A large burden will lie with Moycullen’s inside combination of Pat Sullivan Stephen Tummon who will need to try and contain Eagles’ powerful centre Jason Killeen. If Moycullen can do this they will be in with a chance as they have the guards to score with Eagles if given the opportunity
Down in Waterford, WIT Wildcats will be brimming with confidence ahead of their clash against Munster neighbours Team Montenotte Hotel Cork in the Nivea Women’s Superleague after their comprehensive 31-point win over Liffey Celtics last weekend.
Cork however, pose a very different challenge to Celtics and securely occupy a spot amongst the big three of Cork, DCU Mercy and UL Basketball Club in the women’s game.
These three clubs have swept up all the available trophies over the past four years and are still waiting for a genuine contender to challenge their supremacy. While reticent to say it, WIT Wildcats will be hoping to crack into this top tier but will need a statement win in order to do so.
“We are probably three or four years further down the line in terms of development compared with Liffey Celtics but it is an entirely different proposition this weekend,” remarked Wildcats manager John Hayes.
“I can’t remember the last time we beat [Cork] and it is a huge game for us always. Limerick are also in Munster obviously but we would always have seen this as our big Munster rivalry game.”
Hampering Wildcats chances this weekend will be the fact that they are still waiting on their new American player Terran Condrey to become eligible. In the grand scheme of the season, if Wildcats can keep the game competitive and close on Saturday against Cork, it might give them the confidence to seriously challenge for honours later in the season when Condrey enters the fray.
The Women’s Superleague action this weekend is rounded off by UL who take on Singleton Supervalu Brunell prior to the men’s game in the UL Arena Saturday night, while on Sunday DCU Mercy take on Liffey Celtics at 3.30 in the DCU Complex.