The big game of the weekend sees Dublin rivals Templeogue and Killester go head-to-head in a rehearsal for their forthcoming National Cup semi-final.
Killester have made great strides in all competitions in recent weeks, but assistant coach Mark Grennell knows this will be the acid test for his team.
“We have put together a good run of results and for me the Templeogue game will test our credentials,” said Grennell, who insists the cup semi-final will have no impact on how his team approaches the game.
“I can only speak for my own team but we will not be thinking about the cup game in Cork as this is a crucial league clash.”
Templeogue coach Mark Keenan spent a number of years coaching Killester and knows they will be fired up to topple his side from the league’s summit.
“Killester are presently playing at the top of their game and a win for them would blow the title race wide open but if we end up taking maximum points it will give us a three-game lead over them,” said Keenan.
“We played reasonably well in our midweek win against Belfast Star particularly in the third quarter where we truly showed our best form,” Keenan added.
The second game on at the Arena will see champions Demons clash with DCU Saints. Demons haven’t played for a fortnight but the break has given the players a much-needed rest, according to co-captain Ciaran O’Sullivan.
“We had a number of players that had taken knocks, as many of us were involved with Hibernia, but we have worked reasonably hard as a squad and will be ready for what Saints are going to throw at us,” O’Sullivan said.
Demons are not in action again until the weekend of January 2 when they face a tough double-header against Killester and Moycullen with a cup semi-final the following week at the Mardyke Arena.
“We will enjoy the Christmas break for a few days with our families but the bodies will have to be kept in shape as January is always a very special month for basketball players,” added O’Sullivan.
Swords Thunder face a trip north to play Belfast Star with coach Dave Baker hoping his team can keep their outside league aspirations intact.
“We haven’t played consistently this season but we need a win against Star and then hope we can defeat UCD Marian in a National Cup quarter-final,” Baker said.
Eanna are finding the going tough in their debut season and they will do well to see off UCD Marian.
Moycullen have been playing well without getting the necessary results and coach Nollaig Cunningham will be urging his players to gain maximum points when they travel to play UL Eagles.
In the Women’s Premier League, champions Team Montenotte clash with Killester knowing they could be without star guard Niamh Dwyer for the remainder of the season.
Dwyer got hurt in Montenotte’s defeat by Wildcats last week and although there is no news on the prognosis, damage to her ACL is a strong possibility.
The good news for Montenotte is that sister Grainne will return after missing the Wildcats defeat and she is looking forward to the Killester game.
“It’s been a tough few weeks for Niamh and I but all we can do is keep battling and hopefully our injuries will heal in time for the national Cup semi final against Meteors,” Grainne said.
Leaders DCU Mercy should have too much at home to Liffey Celtics and WIT Wildcats will be hoping to sustain their title challenge when they entertain Singletons Supervalu Brunell.
DCU Saints v Belfast Star, Greendale, 8.15 Hula Hoops Men’s National Cup: GCD Sword Thunder v UCD Marian, ALSAA, 8pm U18 Men’s National Cup quarter-final: Maree v Tralee Imperials Oranmore, 8pm.
Eanna BC v UCD Marian, Colaiste Eanna, 5pm; Belfast Star v GCD Swords Thunder, Methodist College, Belfast, 7pm; UL Eagles v Moycullen BC, UL Sport Arena, Limerick, 7.30pm.
O’Loughlins Panthers v Meteors, St Mary’s Sports Hall, 4pm; Team Montenotte Hotel v Pyrobel Killester, Upper Glanmire SC, 5pm; Maxol WIT Wildcats v Singleton’s Supervalu Brunell, Mercy SS, 7pm.
ITC Basketball v Keane’s Supervalu Killorglin, Barrow Centre, ITC, 1pm; JM&L Auctioneers Titans v C&S Blue Demons, The Jes, Galway, 7pm.
Fr. Mathews v BFG Neptune BC, Colaiste Chriost Rí, 8pm.
Fr. Mathews v ITC Basketball, Scoil Criost Ri, 4.45pm.
DCU Saints v C&S UCC Demons, National Basketball Arena, 2pm; Pyrobel Killester BC v Templeogue BC, National Basketball Arena, 4pm.
DCU Mercy v Courtyard Liffey Celtics, DCU Sports Complex, 3.30pm.
Oblate Dynamos v Fr. Mathews, Oblate Hall, Dublin, 2pm; Marble City Hawks v Team Garvey’s Tralee, O’Loughlin Gael’s Kilkenny, 4pm.