Maigh Cuilinn 64 (24)
Tralee Warriors 85 (40)
An improved performance was not enough to earn Maigh Cuilinn their first win of the Basketball Ireland Superleague season in what has been a difficult and injury interrupted campaign so far.
Maigh Cuilinn faced a visiting Tralee Warriors side that are defending league and cup champions but who had lost four of their five opening games and struggled to hit prior heights.
The men from the kingdom showed enough firepower when it counted in Galway however and a sparkling 30 point performance from American Deondre Jackson in particular paved the way for their deserved 64 v 85 final victory.
The game started nip and tuck with Maigh Cuilinn new signing Mateo Liberatore probing well to give the home team a slim nine to eight advantage midway through the first. A few missed defensive assignments allowed Tralee dangerman Jackson to get loose and he led the charge to swing the momentum their way, Warriors able to sneak a six point lead at the end of quarter one.
The gap between the sides then hovered at or around 10 points for the majority of the second period, Dylan Cunningham and Grant Olsson getting some nice scores for Maigh Cuilinn. A disastrous final two minutes to the half allowed Tralee to get nine quick points, including a three pointer on the buzzer and establish a 16 point lead at the interval.
Given Maigh Cuilinn’s scoring woes, it was always going to be a tough task to close that gap. There were positive signs, youngster Dara Kenna coming off the bench to good effect, but in truth Maigh Cuilnn never looked like getting back to level pegging.
Tralee would win quarters three and four by scores of 22 v 24 and 18 v 21 respectively and any time Maigh Cuilinn looked like getting momentum, they were able to find an answer, Croatian big man Matija Jokic a real handful for the Maigh Cuilinn defence.
Maigh Cuilinn also failed to capitalise on some good overall movement by missing open looks that were direly needed if a comeback was to be made. In the end, the highlights came from Tralee with Jackson getting some reluctant admiration from the home fans when he had back to back break away two handed slam dunks that truly put a pin in any hopes of revival for his opponents from Galway.
The return of Grant Olsson was certainly a welcome sign, and he contributed mightily, netting 21 points and almost as many rebounds. Sidelined again however were usual starters James Loughnane, James Connaire and James Lyons. Their absence has robbed Maigh Cuilinn of vital scoring and some depth on the bench.
Without those options, Maigh Cuilinn looked bereft of ideas to close the gap and fell in the end to a 64 to 85 loss.
Next up is the Galway derby against the high flying University of Galway Maree whose off season signings are proving to be amongst the best in the league and has catapulted them to genuine contenders.
Maigh Cuilinn’s concerns will likely be at the far end of the table with relegation now looking a real possibility.
That game is Saturday 7pm in University of Galway Sports Arena,
Maigh Cuilnn Scorers: Grant Olsson (21), Kyle Cunningham (9), Mateo Liberatore (9), Dylan Cunningham (8), Joseph Tumon (6), Dara Kenna (4), Ayberk Taylan (4), Brian Gaffney (3), Kevin Nugent, Donagh McDonagh, Rory O’Sullivan
Categories: Men's Superleague