After an 18-month absence, the National Basketball League finally returns today.
Portlaoise Panthers have men’s and women’s teams in Division 1 of the respective leagues.
They both begin their campaigns on the road this evening in the UL Arena.
Portlaoise Panthers Women face Limerick Sport Huskies at 5pm while Portlaoise Panthers Men take on Limerick Sport Eagles at 7pm.
The men are coached by Mick Thompson who hails from Perrystown in Dublin.
Thompson joined Templeogue Basketball Club when he was 13 and played with them for approximately 35 years at all levels.
He has coached at underage and senior level and have coached Templeogue and Eanna in both the National League and Super League and DIT in College basketball.
Ahead of tonight’s game, he says his side are looking forward to getting back to competitive action after so long away from the game.
He said: “Our team is looking strong for the coming season with a good mix of youth and experience.
“We finished off our preseason preparations with a good performance and we are looking to build on that now.
“Nelson Larkin is a high caliber point guard who joins us from the Bendigo Braves in Australia having previously played in Finland and in Australia with the Adelaide 36ers.
“We have been really excited to get back on court after nearly two years away.
“The lads have played with a lot of energy since we have been back and of course St Mary’s is looking great since all the work on it has been completed.”
Mick is hoping that his team can make the end of season playoffs.
He said: “Our objectives for the season are to play basketball at a high level, to compete with the best teams in the country and to make the end of season playoffs.
“Panthers are a very well run club and I have settled in very quickly and look forward to helping the club further develop.”