A week ahead of the their National Cup semi-final, defending champions Bord Gais Neptune survived a wild game in Cork versus Belfast Star to get a much needed win in Basketball Ireland’s Men’s Premier League.
After a back and forth contest that saw 16 points scored in the last two and a half minutes, Neptune emerged from the dust to claim a two point victory at home that keeps them in touch with league leaders C&S UCC Demons and Killester.
“It was a great game,” said a relieved Neptune head coach Mark Scannell afterwards.
“They are a very good young team that is well run and they have no fear. We were coming off the back of a 40 point loss (to DCU Saints on 28 December) and there was some tension and nervousness but now we can solely focus on the cup game next week against Dublin Inter.”
A tight one throughout, an unusual set of circumstances allowed Neptune to score six points on one possession late when Star picked up a technical foul as Neptune’s Darren Townes stepped to the line for two.
Townes made one from two before Gary Walsh converted both free throws caused by the technical foul.
Walsh then added a dagger three pointer to extend what had been a two point Neptune lead into a ten-point lead with under two minutes remaining.
A crazy game until the final whistle, some rushed Neptune shots and a turnover allowed Star to then score five quick points before Michael McKillop drained a buzzer three to give the final score of 86–84.
The win keeps Neptune in third place on seven wins and three losses and within striking distance of both C&S UCC Demons and Killester who held their first and second place positions with convincing wins over UCD Marian (104-64) and Dublin Inter (85-55) respectively.
Elsewhere, defending champions UL Eagles got back to winning ways as they easily disposed of bottom side SSE Renewables Moycullen (71-50) in Galway while DCU Saints continued their recent good run of form with a win over Templeogue (82-52).
The Women’s Premier League hosted one of the games of the season so far when defending champions UL Huskies hosted perhaps their biggest rivals, Team Montenotte Hotel in Limerick.
After a week of speculation, neither side disappointed, playing champagne basketball before Montenotte eventually got the better of Huskies to win 80-90.
“There has not been as good a game of basketball as that in a long time,” said a delighted Team Montenotte head coach Paul Kelleher.
“It was hammer blow after hammer blow from each team. We took away their strengths, they took away ours and others stepped up for both. Both teams were exceptional I thought.”
Trailing by six at half-time, it was Montenotte’s fourth-quarter defence that saw them eventually emerge the victors, holding Huskies to just 13 points in the final ten minutes of play.
Fellow Women’s Premier League title contenders Killester and DCU Mercy had easier times of it Saturday night as they comfortably defeated Liffey Celtics (62-51) and Ulster Rockets (72-52) respectively while there were wins also for WIT Wildcats and Singleton SuperValu Brunell.