Eagles lead Champions Trophy chase

Changing times on Ireland’s basketball scene. The final four Champions Trophy spots for the Nivea for Men’s SuperLeague have been settled and there will be no Killester or UCD Marian in the shake up.

Gone too are Belfast Star, back in Division 1 for the year, and in the place of these former giants of the game is the most dominant side in Irish basketball over the past two seasons, UL Eagles.

They’ll be joined by Bord Gáis Neptune, UCC Demons and their rivals in Friday’s semi-final, DCU Saints. But, after a small blip, their last two performances indicate they aim to add the trophy to their bulging cabinet.

A 90-63 win over UCD Marian copperfastened a league run of 16 wins in 21 matches.

Form side Bord Gáis Neptune joined UCC Demons with 13 wins and eight losses over the campaign following an 88-81 over Moycullen on Saturday night. You can’t help but think UCC Demons’ 60-58 loss to DCU Saints, with nothing on the line, smacked of shadow boxing but the win also ensured the Dublin side go into their semi-final against UL Eagles full of confidence.

“We are delighted with the win but it wasn’t a great performance,” David Donnelly said. “We were probably too comfortable at the beginning of the game after our win the other night over Dublin Inter.

“However, I am proud of the lads at how well they came back and turned it around. It’s a good sign that we found a way to win it. Our match-up against UL Eagles next weekend won’t be easy but we are coming into that game off a good run.”

In the Nivea Women’s SuperLeague Ulster Rockets proved too strong for WIT Wildcats, 71-61. Although Rockets had lost to WIT on three separate occasions this season their first victory means a first appearance in the semi-final playoffs in the club’s history. While that comes with a health warning as UL Huskies lie in wait, head coach Breda Dick enthused: “Our goal after Christmas was to finish in the top four and we achieved that. I believe the girls are peaking at the right time and feel prepared to take on UL Huskies next weekend.”

DCU Mercy proved too strong for Meteors 77-38 who, due to injuries, went into the game without a point guard. Their reward is an equally onerous task of facing Team Montenotte Hotel in Glanmire in Friday night.

“Meteors were missing players so we tried to pressure them up the floor,” said DCU Mercy coach Mark Ingle. “Megan Hoffman had a fantastic game for us, she was in great form and finished up with 30 points.”

Semi-final draws

Champions Trophy

Friday: Bord Gáis Neptune v UCC Demons, Mardyke Arena Cork, 6.45pm; UL Eagles v DCU Saints, Mardyke Arena Cork, 8.45pm.

Nivea Women’s SuperLeague Shield

Friday: Killester v Liffey Celtics, Leixlip Amenities Centre, 7.45pm.

Basketball Ireland Women’s Division 1 Playoffs

Saturday: NUIG Mystics vs Oblate Dynamos, NUI Galway, 1.30pm.

Nivea Women’s SuperLeague

TBC: UL Huskies v Ulster Rockets, UL Arena, TBC; Team Montenotte Hotel Cork v DCU Mercy, Upper Glanmire Sports Centre, TBC.

n All other playoff games will be confirmed today.

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