The Men’s SuperLeague continues to dish up surprises week to week, with no game an easy one to predict. Four teams are tied in joint first position, while three more are just behind them in joint second place. This weekend’s fixtures are set to separate some of the top pack though with some big showdowns ins tore.
Abbey Seals Dublin Lions v Garvey’s Tralee Warriors (Saturday, Colaiste Bride, 5.30pm)
For a team looking for their first win of their Super League careers, welcoming the defending champions and current league leaders wouldn’t be high on Lions’ priority list. This is effectively a shot to nothing for Lions though and if they find Warriors asleep on the journey to Dublin they can cause them issues. Warriors remain the deepest team in the country and should be able to outmuscle Lions all over the court. With Paul Dick averaging just 10 points in 25 minutes a game, there’s a feeling Tralee could push on even more in the second half of the season. This should be a road win barring something special from Lions.
Coughlan C&S Neptune v Belfast Star (Saturday, Neptune Stadium, 7pm)
Neptune survived what had the potential to be a major hiccup last weekend by beating DCU Saints on the road despite the absence of Lehmon Colbert and Nil Sabata. This type of result may have gone under the radar last weekend but it is a critical one for Neptune if they are to stay in title contention late into the season. This weekend, they host Belfast Star who make the long trip down south. Star were dominant at home against bottom club Dublin Lions with Ben Marello continuing to impress and have been on hot form in recent weeks. The biggest question facing Star is what to do when Delaney Blaylock returns from injury as Marello has been outstanding. Star’s three losses to date have come on the road, with two of them down south in Kerry. This is a fascinating game between two well-matched teams. Both sit on 18 points although Neptune have a game in hand. The rest of the pack will be keeping a close eye to see which way this one goes.
DBS Éanna v Moycullen (Saturday, Colaise Éanna, 7pm)
DBS Éanna came through a tough trip to UCD last weekend by handing Marian their first home loss of the season. It was relatively comfortable in parts for Éanna as Neil Lynch shot the ball well to support the usual core of scoring threats. This weekend, they welcome a buoyant Moycullen team who picked up their third win of the year as they shocked Templeogue in Galway. Moycullen over their last two games have troubled Neptune and beat Templeogue so they will not be a pushover this weekend. Éanna will still be expected to win this though and their title hopes will rely on winning games like this to ensure they stay at the top of the table.
Pyrobel Killester v Griffith College Templeogue (Saturday, IWA Clontarf, 7pm)
Two of the biggest teams in Irish basketball are both coming into a must win game this weekend on the back of tough losses. What more could you ask for?! Killester lost in Killorglin last weekend for the second straight year. Despite good scoring from their Irish guards there was a lack of inside scoring for Killester. Tomas Fernandez is an excellent player but at times this year Killester have missed the all round scoring of Luis Garcia Hoyos from the past two seasons. Templeogue came into last weekend on the back of a solid win at home to DCU but they have had troubles on the road and last weekend proved no different. Missing Jason Killeen and some other regular big men, they were understrength but had enough quality at their disposal to overcome that. Mark Keenan will be glad he doesn’t have to go to Galway again this year but a trip to his old club Killester is not that welcoming either. Before the season neither team would have believed they would have four losses by mid November, and now one will have five losses by the end of the weekend.
UCD Marian v Keane’s SuperValu Killorglin (Saturday, UCD, 7pm)
UCD Marian’s record at home over the past couple of seasons has been excellent but they lost out to Éanna last weekend. Coach Ioannis Liapakis knows his side are going through a transition but he will be hopeful that they can get back to winning ways this weekend. If they are going to do so they need to get healthy again. Scott Kinevane missed last weekend’s game and Cathal Finn remains out. For a team with a lack of guard depth, they cannot afford these losses. Killorglin travel to Dublin on the back of three quality home wins. Belfast Star, Tralee and Killester are all big wins and things are looking very promising for Colin O’Reilly’s team. Guard Rami Ghanem was big last weekend and O’Reilly himself is in much better form recently. Again both teams come into the game on 15 points so someone will be making a big move after this weekend.
DCU Saints v Maree (Saturday, DCU, 8pm)
DCU have lost their last games against good opposition but they did so without the services of Martins Provizors who should return this weeked. The big Latvian gives a huge physical presence for DCU and is a key cog in drawing defences’ attention and opening up outside shots for his teammates. Darin Johnson for Maree has been excellent this season and he will have a big matchup with Mike Bonaparte this weekend. With Moycullen’s surprise win over Templeogue, Maree are back in the relegation spots and a big road win would be a big boost before Christmas. This should be a close battle and it may come down to which team’s Irish players come up with the bigger scoring night.
Women’s Super League
The Women’s Super League is just as close as the men’s as despite DCU Mercy being unbeaten at the top of the table, the chasing pack of the next seven teams are all neck-in-neck on points.
IT Carlow v Leixlip Amenities Liffey Celtics (Saturday, Tyndall College, 3.15pm)
On just three wins so far, the defending league champions Liffey Celtics are on the outside of the playoff race looking in. Just a year removed from coming agonisingly close to a treble last year this is unfamiliar territory for the Liffey players. Liffey may actually relish a road trip this weekend as they have dropped their last three home games, while scoring just 61 points per game. They face a Carlow team this weekend that have just one win and are giving up 81 points per game. Liffey must win this game to stay in touch with the Top 6. To do so they need to find a way to replace Sorcha Tiernan’s 15 points per game.
Maxol WIT Wildcats v Marble City Hawks (Saturday, Mercy Gym, 7pm)
WIT host the league’s bottom team this weekend with hopes of building on last weekend’s win over Liffey Celtics. Jillian Hayes will be hoping for more of the same from Jasmin Walker who had 28 points last weekend (15 above her current average). Marble City have yet to win but they did give a much improved performance last weekend against Glanmire. Trailing by just two at the half they ultimately lost out by twelve but there were signs of life. Although it’s not her preferred role, Hawks still need to get more scoring out of American Katie Fox. The do it all guard is currently averaging seven points a game and has struggled in the key so far this year. She has the ability to score more and Hawks need every point they can get to be competitive.
Maree v DCU Mercy (Saturday, Calasanctius College, 7.30pm)
The whole league will be keeping a close eye on Galway this Saturday as Maree host DCU Mercy, The fear surrounding the league at the moment is that this Mercy team are just too powerful and are going to be difficult to beat. This thought wasn’t helped by Mercy’s demolition of Killester last weekend. One of the team’s with the best chance to cause them problems are Maree who currently sit in joint second place. The teams met a couple of weeks ago in the Hula Hoops Cup and Mercy were able to defend their home court winning out by 10 after a big fourth quarter. Maree have the ability to cause them issues though and Calasanctius is not an easy gym to go to. Maree themselves come into the game after a big win over Fr Mathews with Carly McClendon and Claire Rockall combining really well for 45 points. This will be a must watch game and the wider league will hope that Maree can try and bring Mercy back into the crowded race.
Ambassador UCC Glanmire v Pyrobel Killester (Sunday, Mardyke Arena, 1.30pm)
Outside of DCU Mercy, Glanmire are the form team in the country winning their last three league games on the back of some stand out performances from Shrita Parker. The American guard has averaged 28 points per game over that three-game span and is causing havoc for other teams. Killester have to make the trip to Cork on the back of a tough home defeat at the hands of the league leaders. Mercy were able to slow down Christa Reed and Adella Randel El as they limited Killester to just 17 second half points and 50 total points (23 below their average). Killester sit right behind Glanmire on the table with just one extra loss and they will be hoping to tie up the records this weekend.
Singleton SuperValu Brunell v Fr Mathews (Sunday, Paraochial Hall, 2.45pm)
The weekend closes out with another big Cork derby as Fr Mathews make the trip over to face Brunell. Brunell showed their ability last weekend with a comfortable win over Carlow at home. There was balanced scoring and the result was never particularly in doubt as they led by 26 at the half. Mathews came up short last weekend on the road to Maree losing by just six points. Mathews’ issue still comes down to depth. Beyond their Americans and Grainne Dwyer, the team shot 6/23 last weekend. Fr Mathews are right in the middle of the playoff race, while Brunell have the quality but are on the outside looking in. The home team need to win games like this to get themselves back into the race. It should be a great one to watch.