AIT see off Athlone Basketball Club to secure bragging rights

AIT Men’s team: Back row - Xiaogang Wei, Alan Jennings, Craig Sheriff (capt), Alberto Viggiano, and Cathal Gill. Front row: Alessandro Cornacchia, Giovanni Di Mauro, Alessandro Cognome, Conor Leen and Kevin O’Flaherty. Missing from photo: Ken Ighor

AIT Men’s team: Back row - Xiaogang Wei, Alan Jennings, Craig Sheriff (capt), Alberto Viggiano, and Cathal Gill. Front row: Alessandro Cornacchia, Giovanni Di Mauro, Alessandro Cognome, Conor Leen and Kevin O’Flaherty. Missing from photo: Ken Ighor

AIT faced off against Athlone Basketball Club last weekend with local bragging rights on the line.

Athlone Basketball Club started well. Darren O’Hara Duggan and Diarmaid Lenihan had a series of easy layups to give their team an early lead. AIT struggled initially to impose themselves, spurning easy scoring opportunities. Alan Jennings and Alberto Viggiano kept AIT in the proceedings through the inside game, demonstrating a lovely soft touch around the basket. The first quarter finished Athlone Basketball 20 AIT 11.

After such a sluggish start, AIT picked up the tempo. Ken Ighor and Giovanni Di Mauro set the tone on the defensive end, causing turnovers and punishing Athlone with fast break scores. Kevin O’Flaherty kept the team playing a high tempo game, dictating the game from the point and creating easy scores for his team mates.

The experienced Aidan Gallagher kept Athlone in the game with a series of outside shots to disrupt The Students’ rhythm, and ensured the home team maintained a narrow lead going into the second half. At half-time the score was 39-35 to Athlone Basketball Club.

AIT picked up the intensity in the third quarter as they limited Athlone BC to one shot opportunities and forced them into a half-court game. The quick tempo suited The Students as it allowed all five players easy scores. Cathal and Gill and Craig Sheriff got their inside-outside game going, exploiting the space whenever either was left free.

AIT took the lead for the first time in the game. Alberto Viggiano gave his team mates a big lift as he had a big slam dunk near the end of the quarter. Cian Farry and Darren O’Hara Duggan were not letting AIT have it all their own way, finishing tough scores despite pressure being exerted on them. The third quarter finished 57-66 in AIT’s favour.

In the last quarter, the intensity in the game increased as both teams made a conscious effort to control the defensive tempo, limiting the shot opportunities of their opponents.

Despite being nine points in arrears, Athlone kept plugging away at the lead. Diarmaid Lenihan and Philip Toolan hit big three pointers to narrow the lead. But AIT ran out winners, with the score finishing 78-87.

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