Setanta to show We Got Game basketball documentary along with live SuperLeague Finals on Friday
Both finals live from 18:45 on Setanta Ireland followed by We Got Game: The Golden Age of Irish Basketball, a new documentary about Irish basketball in the 1980s.
Setanta Ireland will broadcast both of the SuperLeague National Cup Finals live on January 25th 2013, from the National Basketball Arena, Tallaght. The Womens final tips-off at 18:45 when UL Huskies take on TM Hotel Cork and then the Mens final at 20:45 when UL Eagles take on Bord Gais Neptune. Marie Crowe presents and she will be joined courtside by UCD Marians Conor Meany, Will Downing will be commentator for both games and on Co-Commentary are Breda Dick, coach of the Ulster Rockets for the womens final and Adrian Fulton, Former Irish International and current Belfast Star Coach for the mens final.
Following the two finals, at 22:30 Setanta will show We Got Game: The Golden Age of Irish Basketball, a documentary made by Motive Television that recalls a period when the popularity of Irish Basketball was at its greatest. Filled with unique, larger than life characters, it tells the story of when black America and small-town Ireland collided. The hour long documentary revisits a time when teams such as The Neptunes and The Blue Demons were all over the sport pages, and basketball went from being a small sport to one of the biggest spectacles in Ireland in the 80s.
We Got Game, looks at the origins of the game in Ireland before the introduction of American college players in 1979 when the maverick, Paudie OConnor of Killarney brought in the first two American professional players to play in the Irish league. The majority of these players who came to Ireland were young, black Americans, straight out of big-time college basketball, who had marginally missed out on the NBA. We see how the Cork clubs were supported by their own small scale Roman Abramovich-type backers and eventually caught up, and overtook Killarney as the top teams. They did this by bringing some of the all-time greats of this era such as, Terry Strickland, Jasper McElroy and Ray Smith. There is the incredible story of the relationship between Mario Elie and Kelvin Troy who played a season together with Killester. Mario went on to win three NBA Championships back home in the US with the Houston Rockets and the San Antonio Spurs, while Kelvin, his equal, still lives in Ireland, inspiring hoop dreams in new younger generations.
We are introduced to Dave Hopla, shooting coach to NBA stars like Kobe Bryant. He recalls his three years playing basketball in Belfast at the height of the troubles. We also meet, Liam McHale and Deora Marsh who transformed Ballina into one of the main forces of Irish basketball. This is not just a documentary about basketball Ireland, but a fascinating insight into a 1980s Ireland crippled by Recession, which found hope and enthusiasm in the exploits of a few basketball stars from the States. These players became local heroes and some of them made Ireland their home before the popularity of the game faded back.
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