Templeogue 78 Swords Thunder 75: Templeogue withstood a late Swords Thunder surge to win their first ever Men’s National Cup in a dramatic final at the National Basketball Arena.
In one of the best finishes in recent years of this championship, Swords Thunder point guard Isaac Westbrooks had a chance to bring the game to overtime, but his last-gasp shot rimmed out.
“We had a nightmare second quarter but I told the lads at half-time to relax as we were just a little tentative and you saw in the third quarter the standard of basketball we are capable of producing,” beamed winning coach Mark Keenan.
Thunder had reduced the deficit to the minimum before Michael Bonaparte pushed Templeogue ahead with four pressure free throws.
“Michael has not played for three weeks and losing Conor Grace was a huge blow but the spirit in this team is incredible and I am over the moon that we managed to win this championship for him,” added Mark.
The game opened in a flurry of excitement as Sean Flood hit a monstrous three-pointer to give Templeogue the ideal start.
Templeogue went into the game minus Grace but American Bonaparte passed a late fitness test. However, he looked rusty in the opening minutes as Swords opened a four-point advantage.
But a three-pointer from Sean Flood in the sixth minute reduced the deficit to 13-12 and suddenly both teams began to find their range.
Flood was hottest in the shooting department, nailing consecutive three-pointers to put Templeogue 24-16 entering the second period.
But they hit a lull on the restart and with Thunder showing more mettle in defence they turned the game on its head to open up a six-point lead.
Inspired by the outstanding Westbrooks, Thunder ripped Templeogue to shreds in this period and by the sound of the half-time buzzer they had outscored their opponents 23-4 and went in at the break with an 11-point lead.
Coach Keenan had problems as suddenly his team couldn’t buy a basket and needed a good start to the third period to have any chance of getting back in this game.
They got just that as Stephen Cummings and Flood hit consecutive three pointers that had their large band of fans in rapture.
Dave Baker called a time out in the 23rd minute to rally his troops but the lead was reduced to 43-40 when Cummings nailed a basket and bonus.
Swords were not suffering the drought and with three minutes remaining in the quarter the sides were level at 49 points each following a Cummings three-pointer.
On the next possession Swords turned the ball over and former Killester player Paddy Kelly banked a shot following a deft move to the hoop.
Kelly hadn’t played in the Premier League for five years up to a week ago but was called into the squad following the injury to Grace.
Templeogue led 57-51 entering the final quarter and they continued to play the smarter basketball. With six minutes remaining in the fourth, they still commanded a 66-57 lead.
Credit to Thunder they kept battling and inspired by Westbrooks they reduced the deficit to the minimum in the closing minute.
Luckily for Templeogue Westbrook’s last-gasp shot refused to drop and their fanatical supporters could enjoy the biggest win in the club’s history.
R McLoughlin, R Daly, M Bonaparte, P Cummings, S James, S Flood, S Homan, L Murphy, B Morrison, J Killeen, P Kelly, T Swiatowy.
D Nelms, K Lacey, J Corneanau, D O’Leary, P Caffrey, A Dolenko, D Monaghan, S Gaurdia, M Goj, I Wesbrooks, D McMahon, M Garrow.
M Nazimiek (Dublin), P Dempsey (Dublin), E Perry (Dublin).
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