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Basketball Ireland weekly preview

Updated: Thursday, 07 Mar 2013 20:49 | Comments

DCU Saints head coach David Donnelly
DCU Saints head coach David Donnelly

As the final curtain falls on the Nivea For Men’s SuperLeague, this weekend will see the last of the regular season games played out across the country.

In particular, DCU Saints will find themselves battling for the fourth position on the league table that will also guarantee them the final spot for a semi-final play-off for the elite Champions Trophy. Elsewhere in the Nivea For Men’s SuperLeague top three teams will look to use this weekend as preparation for the new competition, while others look to finish the 2012-13 season on a high.

In the Nivea Women’s SuperLeague, the quarter finals for the end of season play-offs will commence as the mid-table teams prepare to take each other on and qualify to the next round.

The action will start tonight for the men when DCU Saints welcome Dublin Inter to Glasnevin. Both teams are one-a-piece going into the clash so all is to play for.

Speaking about his side, head coach of DCU Saints David Donnelly said: “We have been in good form recently, winning both of our last two games on the bounce.

“Inter have been shooting very well lately so we know we need to close down their guards on the perimeter. The last game went into overtime too so we need a big performance tonight.”

Dublin Inter’s head coach Irmantas Griskas understands how close this contest will be: “There is nothing between both teams. DCU are probably our biggest rivals so I know we may enter the game a little nervous but we are determined to prove that we can take them.”

Moving into the weekend both teams will take to the floor again as they are booked for double weekends.

Northsiders DCU will take on UCC Demons. Only last week the Dubliners overcame the Cork side when they finished 73-80. However, this weekend the game holds greater significance as DCU must win one of their games to qualify and compete in the Champions Trophy semi-finals.

Donnelly once again stressed the importance of the teams’ focus saying: “We know we need a win and the opportunity to compete in the Champions Trophy has given us the incentive to do so.

“We will treat each game in isolation, maintain our efforts and look to finish strong.”

As Demons have already secured their semi-final draw against cork rivals Bord Gais Neptune, this game will give them the opportunity to change their momentum of late and record a win on the road.

Paul Kelleher, head coach of UCC Demons, said: “We’ve had a lot of setbacks recently between players being injured, ill or having working commitments. Unfortunately, this weekend, we’ll be going without Niall Murphy after he left the game injured last week.

“However, we are eager to get back on track and back to the consistent team that I know we can be. We are lacking confidence but we won’t let anything interfere. We want to win our next three games and the positive atmosphere around the team tells me we can do it.”

Elsewhere, Dublin Inter’s second game of the weekend will see them challenge Killester in the I.W.A. Clontarf.

Griskas’ attitude is much the same entering this game as it is for the DCU Saints clash. He said: “We are one-a-piece with Killester also, so we know we can take this game.

“This weekend we want to prove to everyone that we will not be pushed around and will finish the season strong. Our aim is to win both games and to make it difficult for our opponents to try and take us on.”

Meanwhile, if DCU were to drop both games this weekend, it would give Killester the opportunity to slip through the cracks and nab the fourth position once they secure their home win.

Killester’s head coach, Tom Doherty, said: “We want to focus on winning this weekend, everything else is out of our hands.

“Inter are an excellent team that have really excelled this season so we will have a close game.

“Our lads are working hard and we want to finish the season on a high at home so Saturday night is a big one for us.”

In Galway, Moycullen will take on Bord Gais Neptune as they look to finish their most successful season to date in the SuperLeague with a win.

Head coach of Moycullen, Salva Camps, said: “We may have been knocked out of the race for the Champions Trophy last weekend but Saturday is still a huge game for us. It’s the last game of the season and it’s on our home court.

“We’ll want to play with heart to thank the supporters who have been behind us all year and also to reward ourselves as a team for all the work we’ve put in since August.

“Neptune play with great speed and try to get up and down the court quick but that won’t scare us too much. We have a young team and should be able to run with them, we just need to make sure we keep our concentration and don’t let them leak out for easy scores on the break too often.”

Mark Scannell, Bord Gais Neptune’s head coach, is excited for his side: “We want to win, to give us a chance to tie the second spot with Demons if they lose. It would be a great achievement for us considering other people’s expectations at the start of the season.

“I am very proud of the team for everything that they have achieved this season, especially the National Cup title.

“Over the last few weeks a lot of our younger boys have earned more court time and they have been coming up trumps. This weekend I want to increase their time and enter the Champions Trophy with a win to give us momentum.

“We have respect for Moycullen and know what they are capable of at home so we need to hit the ground running against them.”

Meanwhile, league winners UL Eagles will take on a resilient UCD Marian, who saw the better of them only two weeks previous.

Speaking about the game, UL Eagles’ assistant coach Mike Hickey said: “This is an important game for us in preparation for the semi-final next weekend.

“We left a bit behind us when we played them last and we know that once we focus on our defence this time around we can secure the win.”

In the Nivea Women’s SuperLeague, the stand out fixture has to be the clash between WIT Wildcats and Ulster Rockets. Although Rockets have lost out to Wildcats three times this season the scoreline proves that little lies between the sides.

Head coach for Ulster Rockets, Breda Dick, enthused: “We have been on a very good run recently and the mood in the camp is high. Everyone is excited about this opportunity and we are going to grab it with both hands.

“Our aim was to reach the top four and we did that when we tied with Wildcats. This game is an added bonus for us and to qualify for the semis would be really great.

“The last time we played them we got into foul trouble near the end. We had the game wrapped up but threw it away – that’s something we don’t plan on doing this time.”

Likewise, head coach of WIT Wildcats John Hayes is also eagerly awaiting the clash: “We got our wish. We wanted a home draw and to have our crowd here be hide us on the night.

“Both teams are neck and neck and we were very luck to come away with the win last time so we need to dig deep this weekend to come away with the win.”

The final women’s game of the weekend will see Meteors take on DCU Mercy in DCU Sports Complex to decide the final team for the end of season playoffs.

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