Basketball fans in Galway will be treated to a highly competitive fixture when the two local Super League rivals Moycullen and Maree clash in the Jes on Sunday.
In a rematch of last month's game, which the more experienced Moycullen won over the league newcomers one month ago, this Hula Hoops Men's National Cup tips off at 3.30pm.
Moycullen enter the match as favourites, having moved up the Superleague table into fifth place with three wins from five, while newly promoted Maree have yet to get a win this season.
“Our focus is now on next week, " says Moycullen coach John Cunningham. "Being forced to play it in the Jes has pros and cons. We train there, but it has limited capacity, and it is likely we will have to turn people away at the door.
“But the buzz the cup brings will be great, and come Sunday, we will be ready,” he says.
Moycullen have been boosted by earning a valuable home win in a thrilling game against Eanna Basketball Club at NUIG Kingfisher Gym on Saturday.
Moycullen’s American player Brandon McGuire contributed 33 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists in helping his side to an 86 –77 victory.
The home side was forced to work hard for the win, trailing much ofthe game as they struggled to match the physical play of Eanna’s inside players, who received the ball on virtually every offensive possession. Eventually Moycullen got to grips with their opponents, and some quality defence from Paul Freeman, McGuire and Dylan Cunningham forced Eanna’s big men out of their rhythm.
In the first half both sides matched each other score for score, neither team able to put any sort of a run together. Late in the second quarter Galway's offence began to click, with Cian Nihill, Dylan Cunningham and Mindaugus Kurcenkovas each contributing.
The game swung further in Moycullen’s favour in the third quarter as they produced a 10-0 run, and brought an almost full Kingfisher gym crowd into the proceedings for the first time.
Bolstered by some high-intensity defence, the Connemara team took control of the game.
Joseph Tummon and Brandon McGuire battled hard in the post, securing some invaluable second-chance oppertunities. McGuire was particularly dominant in the third, scoring 13.
Eanna did their best to fight back, and they managed to cut Moycullen’s lead back to six. However, a barrage of three-pointers from James Loughnanne and McGuire in the final five minutes put they result beyond doubt.
“We did well as a team, and we did a great job of moving the ball and finding the open man offensively,” McGuire said. “It was great to play in front of a big, excited crowd, and their support really helped us get over the line, and pick up the win,” he added.
Coach John Cunningham says his side is coming to grips with bigger teams.
“I’m delighted with our performances over the last two weekends. We had big issues last season with the bigger teams in the league, so these two games were a test of how we have improved in that context."
Moycullen: Brandon McGuire (33 ), James Loughnanne (16 ), Paul Freeman (11 ), Dylan Cunningham (9 ), Joseph Tummon (6 ), Patrick Lyons (4 ), Cian Nihill (4 ), Mindaugus Kurcenkovas (3 ) Kyle Cunningham, Conor Curran, James Lyons, Paul Kelly. Coach, John Cunningham; asst coach, Gerald Lyons.