As the race to the top continues, this weekends fixtures could potentially decide which teams are crowned the 2012-2013 SuperLeague regular season winners for both mens and womens leagues.
In the Nivea for mens SuperLeague red-hot favourites and reigning league champions, UL Eagles will take on Dublin Inter as they look to secure the top spot with a win over the new boys.
Meanwhile, Cork rivals UCC Demons and Bord Gais Neptune will meet for the final time this season as the National Cup Champions hope to oversee a wounded Demons.
UCC Demons will also have the task of taking on a fearless Dublin-Inter side as both teams have a double weekend ahead.
Elsewhere in Dublin, northside opponents DCU Saints and Killester will battle it out as UCD Marian prepares to take on a feisty Moyculle
Coming off the back of a tough cup defeat, UL Eagles have been focused and motivated to retain their regular season title. Their performances over Demons and Neptune respectively have allowed them to play with confidence once more as they secure more vital wins.
Friday night will see them face off with Dublin Inter as they look to distance themselves from the rest on the league table.
Head coach of UL Eagles, Mark Keenan, said, We are fired up and ready to go. This is a huge game for us as we need two more wins from our next four games to win the league title and we want those wins as soon as possible.
This battle will be a real dog-fight. Depending on how other results go we have a chance of closing the league out this weekend. However, Inter have been playing very well and we are carrying a few injuries so we need to go out strong in order to get a good result this weekend.
Dublin Inters head coach, Irmantas Griksas, is excited for the challenge, It is an honour to play UL Eagles. They are the defending champions so we are hungry and motivated to put it up to them.
The beauty of this league is that everyone can beat everyone. We are hungry for more wins and that is what we will look for this weekend.
Friday night will also see the historic Cork rivalry between UCC Demons and Bord Gais Neptune http://static.quickmeme.com/media/social/qm.gifundertake take its final clash this season when both teams meet in the Mardyke.
As National Cup winners, Neptune will enter the game with confidence having knocked Demons out of the running for the title back in January. However, after a tough defeat to Eagles on the road the Mark Scannells side will need to regroup to get a result against an eager Demons side in their home gym.
Scannell said, This is a big game for us, we had a disappointing result last week and suffering with injuries didnt help us. We have an advantage coming into the game as cup champions but we need to remember the cup is over.
There is nothing more dangerous than a fired-up Demons on their home court. So we need to prepared for that and produce a performance worthy of a win.
We need Eagles to drop a game in order for us to challenge the league title, if they dont then it is between both ourselves and Demons to take that second spot.
Paul Kelleher, head coach of UCC Demons added, We have certain targets that we want to achieve this season, finishing the regular season strong and getting ready for the play-offs are the most important ones for us.
We need to focus on ourselves in order to get back on track. Injuries have slowed us down the last few weeks and halted our momentum, this is the first time in a while that our core seven players are in so we can get our rotations right.
This will be a physical game we need to stay sharp and focus if we want to get back on our feet.
Meanwhile, Saturday night will see DCU Saints take on their local rivals, Killester. Both teams have endured patches of good and bad results this season but as the race for play-off positions heats up it is obvious that both sides will be ready to go all guns blazing in order to get a win on the night.
Speaking about the game, David Donnelly, DCU Saints head coach said, We are doing well this week in practice. We know this is going to be a tough game but our approach is to apply good defence and capitalised on scoring more easy points from breaking the ball.
Unfortunately, we will be without the help of Conor Grace but Mike Trimmer has been back training with us and will suit up for the game.
On the other side of the city, UCD Marian will face off with Moycullen. The game will make for an interesting one as although the Galway lads that got the better of the southsiders twice before this season a new and rejuvenated Marian will look to sneak a win.
Marians head coach, Fran Ryan said, This is a hard one to call, we have home advantage and have been playing well but they did get the better of us before.
We have been playing much better basketball since Christmas and this is definitely reflected in the mood on the team. We are looking to build from our last performance and come away with a win this weekend.
Moycullens head coach, Salva camps added, We have had three great games with UCD Marian already this season, they have great scorers in Dan James, Conor Meany and Kevin Foley in particular and we cant afford to just trade baskets with them.
A win this weekend would be huge for us and keep us tied for fourth place with DCU Saints. Most people probably wouldnt have thought of us a team that could challenge for the postseason back in October but we knew we had a talented bunch here and with Pat (Sullivan) playing brilliant, leading the whole country in scoring, we deserve to be here and have no fears anymore about travelling to Dublin or Cork and getting wins.
Sunday will see UCC Demons and Dublin Inter meet once more as both teams are up for a double weekend of games.
Speaking about their clash against UCC Demons, Griksas added, We struggled against Demons the last two times we meet. They are a smart team but we know how they play now so we are prepared.
We will be a few players short for a game against Demons but everyone is excited about the chance to play two of the top teams in the league.
N.B. The game between U.L. Eagles and Inter has been postponed because of a request from Eagles and agreement by Inter.
32-year old Irish ex-international guard Donnie McGrath (193-90kg-84, college: Providence). He is a dual citizen owning also American passport. McGrath played last season at Obradoiro in Spanish Liga Endesa. In 33 games he had 7.7ppg, 1.7rpg and 4.7apg. The previous (14-15) season he played at Krasny Oktyabr in Russian league where in 6 Eurocup games he recorded 11.2ppg, 2.7rpg and 5.3apg. McGrath also played 17 games in VTB United League where he avera... [read more]
Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius (LKL) signed 32-year old Irish ex-international guard Donnie McGrath (193-90kg-84, college: Providence). He is a dual citizen owning also American passport. McGrath played last season at Obradoiro in Spanish Liga Endesa. In 33 games he had 7.7ppg, 1.7rpg and 4.7apg. The previous (14-15) season he played at Krasny Oktyabr in Russian league where in 6 Eurocup games he recorded 11.2ppg, 2.7rpg and 5.3apg. McGrath also played 17 games in VTB United League where he averaged 9.2ppg, 2.6rpg and 4.6apg. The other team he played shortly was Anadolu Efes in Turkish league. In 5 Euroleague games he got 4.0ppg, 1.4rpg and 1.0apg. McGrath also spent pre-season at La ICL Manresa (also in Liga Endesa) that year. He was a member of Irish Senior National Team between 2006 and 2008. McGrath is quite experienced player. He has played also professionally in France (Cholet Basket), Greece (PAOK Thessaloniki, AEK Athens and Egaleo), Italy (Openjobmetis VA, Verona and BancaTercas), Lithuania (Zalgiris) and Russia (Spartak St.Petersburg). McGrath attended Providence College until 2006 and it will be his eleventh (!!!) season as a professional player.
Ian O'Leary agreed terms with Fuenlabrada - 13 days ago
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30-year old American (has also Irish passport) forward Ian O'Leary (201-101kg-86, college: St.Mary's, CA) from Iberostar Tenerife CB Canarias. In 34 Liga Endesa games in Spain he recorded 4.5ppg and 2.7rpg last season. The previous (14-15) season O'Leary played at Gran Canaria where in 26 Liga Endesa games he averaged 4.9ppg and 3.1rpg. He also played 20 games in Eurocup where he had 6.8ppg, 3.0rpg and 1.2apg. A... [read more]
Montakit Fuenlabrada (Liga Endesa) strengthened their roster with addition of 30-year old American (has also Irish passport) forward Ian O'Leary (201-101kg-86, college: St.Mary's, CA) from Iberostar Tenerife CB Canarias. In 34 Liga Endesa games in Spain he recorded 4.5ppg and 2.7rpg last season. The previous (14-15) season O'Leary played at Gran Canaria where in 26 Liga Endesa games he averaged 4.9ppg and 3.1rpg. He also played 20 games in Eurocup where he had 6.8ppg, 3.0rpg and 1.2apg. Among other achievements O'Leary played in the final of WCC Tournament in 2009. He received also Eurobasket.com All-Spanish LEB Silver Forward of the Year award back in 2011. O'Leary has played previously for four other teams: Blancos de Rueda, Palencia Baloncesto, Vigo and Oviedo CB. He attended Saint Mary's College of California until 2009 and it will be his eighth season in pro basketball. The scouts decsribe him following way:
Overlooked somewhat at college but has blossomed in Europe. Strong going to the basket and has good athletic ability. Working on being more consistent outside the 3pt line but provides a real mis match for teams.
A very good athlete he is able to play several positions effectively because of a great mix of size and quickness. Rebounds like a center but runs like a guard. Very effective mid range jumper causes a lot of problems cause he is able to just shoot over top of most defenders. Can handle the ball and has no problem handling pressure and being a release valve for any backcourt. Aggressive offensive mind set makes him lead by example. At college played in a system to showcase NBA Draft choice Patrick Mills, but his performance in Europe will be very different as he will be allowed to show his complete game. Has very long arms and consistently tips and blocks shots from the backside and weak side. A very complete player is capable of playing at very high levels as he continues to develop. Shoots the deep ball quite well and is extending his range which for a player his size will make him deadly.
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