Basketball Ireland Men’s Super League title when the season resumes this weekend.
Templeogue secured their maiden league success last March after suffering just two defeats from 22 games, but were narrowly defeated by Tralee Warriors in the Champions Trophy decider a fortnight later.
A 72-51 National Cup final triumph for Swords Thunder over Killester ensured that there were three different winners of the major tournaments in men’s basketball, and with each side making significant additions to their squads, Killeen is anticipating a tough campaign.
“Every team in the Super League this year, indeed around the country, seems like they’ve gotten better. Everyone is adding pieces, and everyone has improved since last season. We take nothing for granted,” the former UL Eagles star admitted at this week’s season launch at the National Basketball Arena.
“It was fairly evenly spread last year, with three different winners in three different cups. But this year it seems like everyone has gotten stronger. It’s going to be a bit of a ‘wait and see’ for the first couple of weeks to see who is stepping up.”
Their first opponents in the 2017/18 Super League season will be DCU Saints, who have recruited 29-year-old Texas native Demetrius ‘Dee’ Proby onto their player roster.
Proby most recently featured for Indios in the Mexican LNBP following previous spells in Argentina, Bahrain, and Thailand, and though Killeen admits the Saints may possess the element of surprise, he stressed that Templeogue will be ready for action at the DCU Sports Complex tomorrow night.
“DCU are good. There’s a lot of unknowns. They’ve a new American [Proby] come in, and we’ll wait and see,” said Killeen. “We’re preparing for him, hoping for the best, but we’ll be ready come Saturday.”
While Templeogue have kept the same core group of players from last season, they have also bolstered their squad with a couple of key signings. Luke Thompson returns to the fold from their south Dublin rivals Éanna, and with Spaniard Sergi Sole Bertran also added to their ranks, Killeen feels they will be able to hit the ground running.
“Luke Thompson has come back to Templeogue — he went to Éanna for the past couple of years. He’s back and is playing really, really well. Sergi, our new Spanish guy, has come in and has really made an impact early on.”
Since joining Templeogue in 2014, Limerick man Killeen has seen the profile of the team increasing each year, and with a National Cup title in 2016 to go alongside their historic league triumph, Templeogue’s aim is to continue challenging for top honours. Dublin footballer Kevin McManamon retains a vital background role in the club, and Killeen acknowledges that the presence of players from other sports (like Kerry football star Kieran Donaghy with Tralee Warriors) is of huge benefit to the league.
“Yeah, Kev is one of us now at this point. He’s involved with the sports psychology and on the coaching staff. He’s busy now, but he sticks his head in every now and then. We’re delighted every time he comes by, and we wish him the best of luck this weekend.
“You’ll hear a lot of basketball players saying that the game should be able to stand on its own without stars from other sports, but it really raises the profile and it shows kids around the country, especially, that there’s plenty of options for them to go and play.”