Galway basketball club JM&L Titans pulled off the shock of the weekend's action when ousting favourites Neptune by 86-82 in the new Men's Championship Trophy.
Few would have expected division one National Shield winners to match Bord Gais Neptune, who had finished third in the premier division, but the Galway outfit
Coach Paul Freeman says Titans knew if they wanted to beat Neptune that they needed to start strong and maintain it for the entire 40 minutes.
“We came into the game with tough defence which forced them to turn the ball over and gave us some nice looks at the basket and we took the lead early in the game by almost 15 points,” he says.
“Neptune did manage a brief comeback but we fought through it with Chris Coyne and Tomas Mitkus keeping us in the game.”
In front of a large home crowd in Knocknacarra, Titans, with nothing to lose in this quarter-final, started the better against a lacklustre and maybe overly confident Cork side.
Gintaras and Mitkus owned the defensiveboards and hit the runners Fabriciuss and Peldzius whose speed and finishing consistently in the opening quarter hit their more illustrious opponents for six. Running at the Cork side with flair and abandon, they opened up a 28-12 lead in the first quarter.
Chris Coyne, with some great assist play from Emmet Murphy, produced a splendid display of outside shooting efore Neptune’s big American import Townes helped his side to narror the gap to 49-43 at half time.
Mitkus, Gintaras and Peldzius kept Titans in the game, combining for steals, rebounds and baskets from close in, while the shooting of Coyne from outside the arc continued to keep the score close.
Cork began to show their true potential with some three-pointers, but Tomas Mitkus remained the man to stop, supported by Glen Hynes who continued to thwart Neptune’s American, but by the end of the third quarter Neptune had taken a narrow lead, 64-63,
Both sides raised their game for the final quarter - Neptune shooting from deep, with Titans continuing to move the ball at speed from their own boards. Although Coyne fouled out, Titans with a buoyant home support behind them, never gave up. Peldzius, Fabrisciuss and Mitkus helped their side to take the final quarter by five points to the club’s biggest win.
In another quarter-final division one title holders Maree were beaten by premier division outfit DCU Saints 83-63.
Top scorers: Mitkus 24, Coyne 21, Peldzius 14, Ginteras 10, Emmet 8, Toms 5, McNairney 2, Hynes 2.