Portarlington Kestrels face one of the biggest games since their formation on Friday night when they take on Neptune – the giants of Irish basketball – in the Presidents National Cup semi-final.
The Presidents Cup is for the teams outside of the Super League division but this weekend sees the semi-finals of all the national cup competitions taking place in Cork with Kestrels having to take on Neptune on their own court.
But having to travel for a cup game isn’t new to Kestrels as they won on the road in their opening two games – away to St Vincent’s and Killester.
And Neptune aren’t new opposition either and this will be the third time the sides have met this season. Neptune were comfortable 102-83 winners in the opening game of the season in October but when they met in the reverse fixture in Portarlington Kestrels led for long spells and were unlucky to go down 81-80.
Neptune have won eight of their nine Division 1 National League games this season, having come down from the Super League last year.
They are second in the South conference behind Killorglin and 12 points ahead of Kestrels who lie in third. Kestrels do have a game in hand however but the focus now is on the cup competition and getting to the finals weekend in Tallaght at the end of January.
As ever they’ll look to American Chris Teasley for inspiration while Lithuanians Dainius Stankevicius and Mantas Vilimas as well as home-grown players like Aaron Whelan – who is an Irish U-18 international – and Conor Foster will also be key.
Kestrels and Neptune begins at 6.30pm. The other semi-final is between EJ Sligo All Stars and Team Kilkenny. That takes place on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Portlaoise Panthers are also involved in the weekend action in Cork. Their U-18 girls team play DCU Mercy at 10am on Saturday in the Parochial Hall in Cork.
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