Basketball Ireland Premier League leaders C&S UCC Demons will need to bounce back strong from their first loss of the season, suffered last weekend, when they host a dangerous Belfast Star in Cork on Sunday afternoon.
Demons, who remain in first place only because of a superior head-to-head record versus fellow one-loss side Killester, lost to local rivals Bord Gais Neptune in dramatic circumstances last weekend.
Having led by as many as 16 points in the final quarter, Demons’ collapse late in the game has been blamed by some on complacency following their outstanding season to date.
That is a notion firmly dispelled by captain Shane Coughlan, who insists the team are fully focused on one game at a time and nothing more.
“We have to just keep doing what we are doing. It was a bit of a collapse in the fourth quarter but we were motivated for last week, you just have to give credit to Neptune,” said Coughlan.
“We had a little chat amongst ourselves and everyone is motivated to look at it just one game at a time and we are fully focused on Belfast Star this Sunday and nothing past that.”
Demons’ conquerors, Neptune, are also in action Sunday as they face UL Eagles in a rematch of the 2013 Cup final.
The Cork club are still in with an outside chance of the league title but probably have their sights more realistically set on securing their place in the end of season top four Champions Trophy competition.
“Beating a team like the Demons gives us confidence and momentum that we would like to build off,” said Neptune captain Gary Walsh.
“We will probably not reach the top spot on the league table, but we will focus on what we can control and focus on winning the remainder of our games.”
Meanwhile, Saturday will see two all-Dublin clashes with Killester big favourites over Templeogue, while both DCU Saints and UCD Marian will look to rediscover their winning ways when they face one another.
The only other game in the Men’s Premier League pits SSE Renewables Moycullen, fresh off their first home win of the season against Templeogue last weekend, against 2014 Cup finalists Dublin Inter in Mountview.
With mid-week games having taken place on Tuesday and Wednesday in the Women’s Premier League, there are just two fixtures this weekend.
The shortage is made up for in quality however as defending champions UL Huskies take on DCU Mercy in a top of the table clash in Limerick on Saturday night.
With both sides having lost just two league games all season, there is a realisation that the outcome of Saturday’s tie could well determine who grabs the first seed for the play-offs in March.
“This game can decide the league [standings] so we must be ready to fight on every possession and be very focused mentally going into the match. It is a must win for us,” said Huskies guard Rachael Vanderwal.
The weekend’s other fixture sees Liffey Celtics host WIT Wildcats.