Loftus Recycling secured two valuable points in the National Basketball League Division one when they overcame Bord Gáis Neptune (Cork ) in an entertaining game in Ballina Sports and Leisure Centre on Saturday night.
The victory was all the more significant as it was achieved despite the loss of player coach, Liam McHale, in the early minutes of the match when he sustained an ankle injury which is likely to keep him out of action for a number of weeks. This was a good performance by a young Ballina side while poor discipline cost Neptune dearly with a number of technical fouls being incurred by the visitors who also had two players, Tom O’Sullivan and team captain Ronan O’Sullivan, fouled out of the game on five fouls each.
Loftus Recycling led by two points at the end of the first quarter (17:15 ) with the early baskets coming from Willie Popplewell, Dara McGarrity and Taofic Mustapha, who had the game high of 21 points, while Ronan O’Sullivan and Gordon Fitzgerald had most of the early scores for Neptune. In the second period, the home team extended their lead to five points with McGarrity hitting 13 points of which six came from the free-throw line reflecting Neptune’s indiscipline. Mustapha and Peter Papic added points to leave the half time score at 37:32 in favour of the home team.
In the third period, Ballina consolidated their position with Mustapha landing seven more points and Gavin Roche coming off the bench to score five. Fitzgerald and Stapleton each scored two baskets for Neptune but Anthony McHale added a basket just before the break to extend the home lead to nine at the three-quarter stage with the score at 54:45.
The visitors started the final quarter with two more baskets from Fitzgerald, and Ronan O’Sullivan added two more before being forced out of the game on five fouls. Paul Keenan landed a big three-pointer for Neptune but Loftus Recycling maintained their composure and further baskets from Blaise Devaney, McHale, Papic and Mustapha ensured that the Ballina side held out for an important home victory which helps them keep alive their chances of qualifying for the play-off stages of the league.
Loftus Recycling: Liam McHale (2 ), Taofic Mustapha (21 ), Blaise
Devaney (4 ), Dara Mc Garrity (20 ), Peter Papic (13 ), Anthony McHale (6 ), Gavin Roche (5 ), Colin O’Malley, Neil McHale.
Neptune: Tom O’Sullivan (3 ), Ronan O’Sullivan (20 ), Adrian Mullins, Paul Keenan (5 ), Jason O’Donoghue (9 ), Gordon Fitzgerald (18 ), Paul Stapleton (8 ).
On Saturday December 11 Loftus Recycling travel to Portlaoise to face Subway Portlaoise in the next round of the National League.