Weekend basketball previews

Tonight

Weekend basketball previews

National Champions Trophy semi-finals

UCC Demons (Cork) v Bord Gais Neptune (Cork), Mardyke Arena, 6.45pm

When UCC Demons and Bord Gais Neptune clash anything goes and tonight another capacity attendance will witness another chapter in their 47-year rivalry. Demons have had the best of their encounters this season, winning three of the four games, with Neptune’s solitary success coming in the National Cup semi-final.

Neptune shocked many when winning the National Cup and coach Mark Scannell is determined to end Demons’ dominance in local derby games. Michael McMinn is in the form of his life for Neptune and, with Ger Noonan also excelling, they will be confident of grinding out a win.

Demons will look to stalwarts Niall O’Reilly and Shane Coughlan but Neptune’s defence may just about shade this intriguing encounter.

Verdict: Board Gais Neptune.

UL Eagles (Limerick) v DCU Saints (Dublin), Mardyke Arena, 8.45pm

Super League champions UL Eagles are sure to be tested by an in-form DCU Saints side that completed the season on a five game winning run. This game could be decided by the availability of Saints ace Martin Proviors, who has not played in any away game this season due to work commitments.

When these sides clash they are tough physical battles and Eagles, with the exception of one game, have always come out on top. Certainly not one for the faint-hearted, but, now that they have a fully fit squad, Eagles should advance.

Verdict: UL Eagles.

Tomorrow

Nivea Women’s Super League semi-final

Team Montenotte (Cork) v DCU Mercy (Dublin), Neptune Stadium, 7pm

Team Montenotte have no injury worries as they get ready to welcome great rivals DCU Mercy. The Cork side have won two of the three games the sides have played this season and are favourites to advance.

Defence is always key when these teams meet and the match-up between Montenotte’s Niamh Dwyer and Lindsay Peat will have a huge bearing on the result.

The form of Montenotte’s Croatian Tomica Bacic will be crucial in how she shuts down the threat of American Megan Hoffman. The game could go either way, but home advantage may see Team Montenotte book their place in the SuperLeague final.

Verdict: Team Montenotte.

UL Huskies (Limerick) v Ulster Rockets (Belfast), UL Arena, 5pm

Champions UL Huskies will be expected to get past the youthful northerners who shocked WIT Wildcats last week. In Michelle Fahy and Rachael Vanderwal UL possess two of the classiest players in Irish basketball.

UL will also be hoping to complete the league and cup double for the second consecutive season and no doubt coach James Weldon will have his troops primed.

The Ulster side are the most improved team in the SuperLeague, with American Caroline Stewart leading their challenge, but UL should advance to the final.

Verdict: UL Huskies

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