Thunder set to make noise in big time

Dublin Thunder could seal SuperLeague status tonight by claiming the senior men’s National Cup at the National Basketball Arena.

With the SuperLeague Cup finals next weekend, the exciting new Dublin side could steal the limelight when they play UCD Marian for the senior men’s title. The side just oozes talent and their class was evident when they trounced Kilkenny 104-57 in the semi-final at Neptune Stadium.

Isaac Westbrooks and Michael Goj highlighted their presence with highs of 23 and 17 points but there was a vast array of talent all along the bench.

The Westbrooks family is synonymous with Irish basketball and now Isaac is back in the country after spells in Iceland and England while Goj won SuperLeague honours with Killester.

Sean Kilmartin, too, has been away in the US while Cathal Reidy won a national cup medal with Tolka Rovers in the past, while they are coached by the astute Dave Baker.

“We have six players from Dublin Business School who also play for Dublin Thunder,” said Baker.

“We meet in the mornings, lift together in the gym and then practice together. After that we train three nights a week.”

He was bitterly disappointed when they failed to get SuperLegue status this season — the rule requires a team has to be at least one full year in basketball — so he took them to the EFBL (European Friendly Basketball League) where they remain unbeaten.

He said: “We applied for national league this year but must play a year at local level before playing at national league, the Dublin league was full so we entered European Friendly League which has 17 teams in two different pools.

“We hope to have one American on scholarship through the elite scholarship programme which is just in its infancy.

“We have been going since July and played 28 games against four American colleges, a pro team from the Philippines and five SuperLeague teams and our record, 27 and 1.”

They will be overwhelming favourites going into tonight’s game but UCD Marian coach Mike Clancy insists his side won’t be overwhelmed.

“This game will be decided on court and not on paper,” he insisted. “They will be favourites — we won our semi in a very close, tight game while their semi was over at half time.”

They have Barry Glover from that side and he still holds the record for the highest amount of scores in the SuperLeague, as well as evergreen Gary Edge, experienced Mark Byrne and talented youngsters such as Paddy Young, Ciaran Dunne and Dave Guilmartin.

Meanwhile, Deirdre Kearney and Deirdre Geaney could land a treble as they have a good chance of lining out in Tralee Imperials’ senior women’s, U20 and U18 sides tomorrow.


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