‘Target’ James deserves protection, says Price

NEH NEPTUNE coach, Pat Price, has appealed to referees to “sit up and take notice” of the physicality being directed at their American player, Juwann James.

On the eve of their crunch NIVEA for MEN SuperLeague game away to Ulster Elks, he said the physical play against Juwann James has been under-called.

“People take it for granted that he can endure it all because he is so strong,” he said. “Frankly we are going to have to take a stand on it because he is getting fouled so frequently.

“We must contend with the growing, disturbing trend of multiple fouls and physical play on Juwann. From our point of view there are different ways to counter it but the referees will just have to sit up and take notice of this physicality.”

Going into another important weekend for the SuperLeague NEH Neptune, with a game in hand, trail their near neighbours, UCC Demons, by a point in their battle for second position in the Southern Conference – a spot that would give them a home tie for the play off stages.

This weekend Neptune travel to Belfast to play Ulster Elks while Demons must renew rivalry with Killester who raided their cabinet and took away the coveted national cup three weeks ago.

A couple of weeks ago Neptune would have been expected to roll all over Elks until the Belfast side pushed Demons to three points and then beat UL Eagles, arguably the best team in the country right now, last weekend. Pat Price admits that this is a dangerous assignment.

“The important thing is to understand that throughout the course of the season things can change within a team – injuries, the chemistry can change and they start to realise their potential,” he said.

“Two weeks ago Elks were just few plays away from turning Demons over. You could see a bit more confidence there and I know we are going to have our hands full. The first time we played them we showed them an awful lot of respect by defending very aggressively and we need to do that again.

“At this point in the season we have to take care of our own business – the one game at a time approach.”

On Sunday, the spotlight will be on UCC Demons and Killester when the newly-crowned cup champions travel to Cork looking to replicate the cup final.

“Sunday’s match will be a difficult challenge for us as we are down three starters,” Demons’ coach, Luke D’Alessio, said. “Killester are on a serious roll, having dominated our cup final game. We must rise to the challenge, playing tough basketball from the whistle. Defensively, we must slow down their fast breaks and their drives to the basket from the half-court set.”

Belfast Star will be without Neal McCotter ahead of their double header with DCU Marian and HOOPS and their coach, Danny Fulton, believes two wins are required if they are to secure home advantage in the play-off’s.

In the IrishSport.TV’s Women’s SuperLeague, leaders Team Montenotte Hotel Cork host Meteors, while play-off chasers, UL and Killester, clash on Saturday night. Sligo All Stars’ latest search for their first win of the season comes at home to Sean O’Regan’s vastly improving Bausch & Lomb Wildcats.

National Cup champions DCU Mercy take on Tolka Rovers in an all-capital affair in Sunday’s sole Women’s SuperLeague encounter.

Mark Ingle’s DCU charges are boosted by the return of Ann Marie Healy and will be keen to help the club make amends for last weekend’s loss to Killester.


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