The closing weekend of the National Basketball Championships will begin this evening with the men’s Champions Trophy semi-finals at Neptune Stadium.
First on court will be Cork side C&S UCC Demons as they take on Galway outfit Titans (7pm).
Division 1’s Titans shocked the basketball fraternity last weekend as they knocked out Premier League side Bord Gáis Neptune, much to the disappointment of many Cork fans who were anticipating another derby clash.
“Defeating Neptune was incredible but now we have it all to do against a Demons side that will be hurting after getting pipped for the Premier title,” said Titans manager Paul Freeman.
Titans lost five national finals before breaking their duck this season with the Division 1 National Cup.
“Getting that monkey off our back was a relief but in truth, Demons are a quality team and it would be an achievement if we could compete with them.”
Demons captain Shane Coughlan may retire after this championship following 16 seasons in the Premier League though the captain wasn’t interested in talking on his future plans.
“This is not the time to talk about my future as all I am interested in is helping Demons to the best of my ability and it would be nice to retain the Champions Trophy that we won in the inaugural season last year,” said Shane.
Demons only report one injury worry with Niall O’Reilly unable to train in the last few days due to a groin strain. Titans will be hoping American Chris Coyne will produce a season best but Demons biggest problem will be restricting post player Thomas Mitkus.
The Cork side’s standards slipped in the closing weeks of the season blowing a 16-point lead against Neptune twice in a defeat that ultimately cost them the league. American Lehmon Colbert will want to finish the season in style and Demons guards will need to give him quality ball when getting into good scoring positions
The second semi-final will be an all-Dublin affair with Premier League champions Killester taking on DCU Saints. Over the years these clubs have been involved in some cracking games and Saints coach David Donnelly is looking forward to the next chapter.
“When I played it was one game that both clubs looked forward to at the start of every season and when we played Killester earlier in this campaign we only lost by three points,” Donnelly said.
“We played very poorly [last time] and a repeat display wouldn’t suffice as Killester are a serious side that will take some stopping this weekend.”
This is likely to be a physical game as both teams possess players of strength and height. A plus for Killester is the quality of their defence and Saints will do well to break them down. Not a game for the faint-hearted but the better-balanced Killester side may have too many weapons in what should be an intriguing encounter.
Weekend basketball finals
All games in Neptune Stadium
Champions Trophy semi-finals: C&S UCC Demons v JM&L Auctioneers Titans, 7 pm; Killester v DCU Saints, 9 pm.
League Cup semi-finals: Dublin Inter v UCD Marian, 2pm; UL Eagles v Belfast Star, 4 pm.
Women’s Premier League Shield final: Ulster Rockets v Meteors, 6 pm.
Women’s Division One final: Portlaoise Panthers v Tralee Imperials, 8 pm.
League Cup final, 12 pm; Women’s Premier League final, 2 pm; Champions Trophy final, 4 pm.
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