The opening weekend of the Nivea For Men’s Superleague got off to a thrilling start with Limerick Lions snatching victory from the hands of Ballina, while Belfast Star came out on top in the Ulster derby with league newcomers University of Ulster.
Neptune left it late to record a three point win over Mustang St Pauls in an all-Munster affair, while reigning champions Dart Killester got off to a winning start at the expense of UCD Marian on Thursday night.
Kieran Donaghy helped Abrakebabra Tigers to victory over their Cork rivals UCC Demons and DCU Saints sent out an early message of intent with a 102-74 success over Hoops at the National Basketball Arena.
Danny Fulton’s wily campaigners Belfast Star were too strong for league newcomers University of Ulster (83-68) on Sunday.
Star held a 42-28 advantage at half time and rarely looked under serious threat of losing their lead.
Stephen Dawson inspired Star to victory with 25 points, while Adrian Gross and former Star player Scott Summersgill netted 20 points each for the University.
The meeting of Merry Monk Ballina and Limerick Lions on Saturday turned out to be the game of the weekend.
The Lions scored a dramatic opening win away to Superleague giants Ballina by 85-84 at a packed Ballina Sports Complex.
Limerick looked to be in trouble when they lost Irish international Stephen King to injury early in the third quarter and American Thomas Davis to foul trouble in the final quarter.
Ballina capitalised on Limerick’s loss and found themselves a point ahead in the latter stages of the final quarter.
Rob Lynch then hit a superb three-pointer to edge Limerick into a one point lead, which they managed to hold in a dramatic closing sequence.
Ballina had a big performance from Ronan McGarrity (32 points), who was absent for half of last season due to a cancer scare.
The Killarney Presentation gym saw a huge turnout on Saturday evening as Neptune managed to earn maximum points with a slender 92-89 success over Mustang St Pauls.
St Pauls held the advantage for the majority of this contest but a late rally from Neptune was enough to steal the points.
St Pauls were 63-61 ahead with two minutes remaining in the third quarter, but Neptune managed to finish strongly, hitting nine points without reply, with Michael DeCorso in fine form.
Neptune extended their lead to eight points (90-82) with just over a minute remaining on the clock, but baskets in quick succession from Matt Hilleary and Jarlath Lee narrowed the gap to just a point to set up a nail-biting finale.
However, Ger Noonan was clinical from the free throw line in the final seconds to ensure victory for Neptune and edge out their Munster rivals.
In the other all-Munster affair, Abrakebabra Tigers secured a 118–105 success over UCC Demons at the Tralee Sports Centre on Saturday evening.
Their win was largely attributed to their debutants, Chris Jordan and Carl Hadley, who each amassed a tally of 30 points.
Fresh from his All-Ireland success with Kerry, Kieran Donaghy also played a huge part in the 13-point win with a personal tally of 19 points.
DCU Saints got their season off to a positive start with a 102-74 win over Hoops at the National Basketball Arena on Friday night.
The win was largely attributed to the excellent shooting of Kenny Gamble, Pete Madsen and Keenan Bowder.
Meanwhile, Jonathan Reid was in impressive form for the Hoops with a tally of 29 points.
Dart Killester got their title defence off on the right track with 11 points to spare over UCD Marian in the opening game of the Superleague on Thursday night.
UCD Marian narrowed the deficit to just five points at the interval but Mark Keenan’s Dart side dominated the third (68-49).
UCD Marian threatened a late comeback with three pointers from Conor Meaney and Pat Beiline but Killester managed to hold onto the points.
'We need to take care of the ball better as a team, but overall with all the new faces it was a good performance,' said Killester coach Mark Keenan.
Meanwhile, in the Basketball Ireland Women’s Superleague, UL Aughinish continued their winning start to the season with a 67-48 win over Tolka Rovers.
Jim Nugent’s UL charges secured wins over Meteors and Waterford Wildcats in the opening weekend and followed it up with a 19-point success over their Dublin counterparts.
Irish international Fiona Scally struck 19 points for the home side, while American Jolie McKiernan was back to her very best form, hitting an impressive 28 points for Tolka.
Glanmire’s win over Dart Killester was never in any doubt as Jennifer Strong (17 points) and Michelle Fahy (11) helped them to a 72-32 win on Saturday evening.
Meanwhile, Waterford Wildcats collected their first win of the season with a 58-45 win over Meteors.
The Wildcats held a four-point advantage at the interval, but went on to dominate the third and fourth quarters with 16-year-old Stephanie O'Shea netting 14 points.