A superb individual performance from UL Eagles star guard Rob Taylor helped his team to a crucial win in their top of the Nivea For Men’s SuperLeague table clash with UCC Demons.
Eagles recorded the 86-73 win on Demons’ home court of the Mardyke Arena as Taylor led all scorers with an impressive 33 points. The victory comes just nine days after Eagles lost their SuperLeague Cup crown to Bord Gais Neptune.
“It is a huge boost for us to get the win and have the better head to head over Demons,” said Eagles coach Mark Keenan.
“We said all week, ‘this is in our hands and we need to take it one game at a time and that if we win out we win the league’” said Keenan.
Both teams entered the game with only three losses and had one won and lost one in the head to head matchups. The win for Eagles puts them firmly in the driving seat entering the final month of games in the Nivea For Men’s SuperLegaue.
Bord Gais Neptune kept the pressure on the top two with a nine point victory over fourth placed DCU Saints in Cork Saturday night.
Keen to avoid an emotional let-down after their memorable SuperLeague Cup triumph the weekend before, Neptune benifited from a second half surge that eventually saw them snatch victory away from the vistors.
“We had a fairly lethargic start to the game and first half overall really,” said Neptune coach Mark Scannell, who earlier in the week had commented that if his team were to have any chance at winning the Nivea For Men’s SuperLeague, winning all their remaining home games is a must.
“We regrouped a bit after being down at the half but never really got going or played to the heights we have recently. It was anyone’s game right up the last minute,” said a relieved Scannell after the game.
While, Neptune, Demons and Eagles look set for an epic struggle for the outright Nivea For Men’s SuperLeague title, there is an intriguing battle developing for fourth place and the last spot in the end of season Champions Trophy.
Saints currently lie fourth in the table, but after their loss to Neptune, have opened the door to Killester, Moycullen and Dublin Inter, all of whom are well within reach of catching them.
Friday night saw Killester and Dublin Inter meet in the National Basketball Arena as new-boys Inter earned their fifth win of what is their first ever season in the top division of Irish basketball.
In a back and forth contest, Inter rallied after entering trailing by double figures early on to win by six points in the end, 82 to 76.
“We started of really bad on defence and gave up 28 points in the first quarter,” said Inter head coach Irmantus Griksas.
“After that though we tightened up and started getting back on defence and the win puts us right back in the fight for fourth spot which was our goal coming into the season.”
Meanwhile, Moycullen got their 2012/13 campaign back on track with a convincing 90 to 78 win over UCD Marian in Galway on Saturday. The win keeps their hopes of reaching the post-season very much alive.
“It’s a hugely important win for us and keeps us in touch of DCU Saints in fourth spot,” said Moycullen centre Pat Sullivan after the game.
“Salva (Camps, Moycullen’s player coach) was incredible today. 31 points and I don’t know if he missed a shot. We scored 90 points today and you’re not going to lose too many games scoring 90 points.”
In the Nivea Women’s SuperLeague, Meteors and Ulster Rockets both served notice of their intentions with strong home wins that kept them right in the thick of the playoff race.
In Belfast, Ulster Rockets had the experience to see off a gutsy performance from the young Singleton SuperValu Brunell team, whose top scorer Edel Thornton (28 points) played the weekend before in the U18 National Cup.
Their greater size and bulk was just part of the reason for the northerners 75 to 64 win however. Led by an in-form Meghan Houlihan who scored often and early, Rockets forced Brunell into a box and one defence that left gaps for other players as the home side controlled the lead from start to finish.
Speaking after the game, Rockets head coach Breda Dick was relieved to have gotten the result after what had been a long lay-off for her team.
“We hadn’t played a game in a month and it looked like it at times out there, but delighted to have gotten the win. Brunell are a good side and gave it a good go for the whole game.”
For Meteors of Dublin, it was another hard-fought win over their neighbours Killester overturning a first quarter nine-point deficit to win by a convincing 18 points by the final whistle.
“The final score is a little bit unfair on Killester I think but there was no argument I feel that we were the better team on the night,” said Meteors head coach Hugh Kilbride.
“There was a lot at stake in the game and while our shots didn’t drop early on but for the rest of the game Jade Daly (18 points) and Rebecca Nagle (20 points) in particular shot the ball really well.”
Elsewhere in the Nivea Women’s SuperLeague it was another tough weekend for the struggling Liffey Celtics team as they dropped games to DCU Mercy on Saturday before falling to Team Montenotte Hotel Cork on Sunday.