Entering February off the back of an extremely successful month, National Cup champions Bord Gais Neptune will travel to Limerick to take on last season’s double champions, UL Eagles, in the Nivea for Men’s SuperLeague.
The last time both teams meet was in the National Cup final in front of a sold-out National Basketball Arena and it was the Cork side who left Dublin with the cup held high. This time around, both teams understand the importance of the game and how it will affect their league status.
Mark Scannell, head coach of Neptune said: “This is a must win game for us, if we lost this… I can’t really see a way back.”
Scannell continued: “I watched UL play last week and they have bounced back well from their loss in the cup. Keenan is a clever coach and will learn a lot from the last time we meet so they will be prepared.”
“We are over the glory of the cup, we have come back down to earth and to basics. With our energy high, we are ready and prepared for the game this weekend.”
Echoing Scannell’s sentiments, head coach of Eagles, Mark Keenan, highlighted the importance of the game: “This is a huge one for us. We were disappointed with our result in the cup but we need to get a win over Neptune to secure a top of the table position down the stretch.”
Before the weekend fixtures begin, Thursday night will see DCU Saints take on UCD Marian.
As both teams enter the game off the back of a string of losses it will be Saints that will be quietly confident as they already secured two wins over the southsiders earlier this season.
However, head coach of Saints, David Donnelly, is aware of the change in dynamics saying: “The last time we played Marian they didn’t have Thomas Viglianco and he is big for them inside. We will have Provizors with us this evening so it will make for an interesting match-up.”
On the back of that Dublin derby, DCU Saints will also take on Dublin Inter this Saturday. During their last clash, the game was forced into over-time as Saints stole the win. This time however, Inter enter the game all guns blazing as they have recently secure three win on the bounce.
Speaking about Inter, head coach Irmantas Griksas said: “This is our most important game so far. We set our goal at achieving fourth place this season and we need to win this game over DCU Saints to stay in the running for that spot.”
“We have worked very hard to get to this position and are ready to take on Saints. Provizors and Emmet Donnelly will provide trouble for us so we know we need to be weary of them and their positive influence over their own team.”
Donnelly also said: “Inter are on a good run at the moment and we know the pressure they like to bring. We must step up our own defence and be ready to challenge every shot they put up.”
Meanwhile, UCD Marian will play their second game this weekend against Cork’s UCC Demons in the National Basketball Arena.
Demons must secure a win over the Dublin side this weekend in order for them to keep their league dreams alive come March. Coming off the back of a tough loss to UL Eagles last week, Demons will be rearing for the opportunity to set the record straight that they deserve a spot at the top of the table.
Finally for the men Killester will take on Moycullen in the IWA in Clontarf.
Both sides have had patches of good and bad spells this season with their last encountered ending with an impressive victory for the young Galway side.
Nonetheless, Killester will be rejuvenated entering the game as the last time the two teams meet the Dubliners were under different management and without their power-house inside man, Michael Bonaparte.
Meanwhile, in the Nivea Women’s SuperLeague everyone’s attention will be firmly set to the clash between DCU Mercy and Team Montenotte Hotel Cork.
As the rivalry between the two teams thickens, the result of this game will play a significant role in deciding who could potentially be crowned champions, should UL Huskies drop a game or two in the coming weeks.
The pressure is also on both sides to set themselves up nicely coming into the end of season play-offs.
Speaking about the game, head coach of Team Montenotte Hotel Cork, Andrea Congreaves is confident in her side: “This is a big game and DCU are a tough team. We need to win this game to tip the balance in our favour coming down the stretch.”
“We are prepared for the challenge and the girls understand the importance of this fixture for us.”
Ulster Rockets will also have a tough weekend ahead as they meet WIT Wildcats on Saturday and travel to Cork to take on Singleton SuperValu Brunell the following day.
Head coach, Bread Dick is also aware of the importance of this weekend saying: “We need the points this weekend if we want a spot in the final six come the playoffs in March. We are back to full strength with Mairead McNally also back on board.”
“We had a good win last weekend over Brunell but everyone knows it’s a different story when you have to play them at home in the Parochial Hall in Cork. We’re looking forward to both games and hopefully come out of this weekend with two wins.”
Back in Dublin, Meteors will take on Liffey Celtics as the southsiders continue to chase a spot in the play-offs.
Meteors head coach Hugh Kilbride said: “This is a crucial game for us against Liffey Celtics that we simply must win in order to keep our play-off dreams alive. We had a good performance last weekend and we are looking to build on that.”
Elsewhere, Killester will take on top of the table UL Huskies in the IWA Clontarf as they look to catch the cup champions on their home court.