As David Stern and Derek Fisher trade jibes in America, there is no lockout of the Irish Super League in Ireland. With the NBA, and more importantly the Boston Celtics, being prevented from entertaining the masses, here at Sports Central I have decided to catch on with Bord Gais Neptune basketball club in Cork city.
Neptune is the most celebrated Irish basketball club and is the only club throughout the UK and Ireland to own it's own stadium.
It was in this stadium that Neptune entertained Killester from Dublin today.
Coming off a huge victory over their biggest rivals, UCC Demons, that culminated in a frantic final few minutes, it was no surprise that Neptune made a slow start to the game.
Despite an intense showing from both sides in warm-ups, the crowd reveling in the various dunks on show, it was Killester that shot out from the opening tip to an early 12-7 lead.
Killester signaled their intentions early as the first two plays featured American forward Jermaine Turner. Turner set up from just inside the arc and shot over Neptune's Ronald Thompson on the team's first two possessions.
Turner's success with his first two attempts forced Thompson to close out which allowed Turner to assist an easy layup early.
That was somewhat of an irregularity in the early going however as Killester generally settled for the outside shot. Neptune couldn't settle for anything but missed free throws until Phil Taylor settled nerves with a nice layup.
As the fouls mounted early, Killester were in the penalty with five after only three minutes, so did the missed free throws. Neptune's Ronald Thompson was using his size advantage inside as four of Killester's first five fouls came on the 6'9" forward.
Thompson had his hands full on both ends early on as he lined up against Turner in what proved to be a fearsome battle throughout the game. Turner was getting the better of that matchup early on as he had 7 of Killester's first 12 points.
Neptune were struggling as a team also as they continually missed easy baskets to go along with six turnovers in the first quarter. Their frustration was visible as Thompson struck a chair on the sideline and Ger Noonan screamed his anger after another miss.
Neptune showed some life as the first quarter came to a close, as good ball movement stretched the Killester defense and allowed for an easy two points. Nonetheless the home side trailed by 25-11 heading into the second quarter.
Neptune continued their momentum from the end of the first into the second as another easy layup followed after good ball movement.
Killester's defense stiffened from there and didn't get into the foul trouble that they had in the first. They started to make better use of their overall size advantage, not one of the Killester players was listed below 6'0" while only one of the Neptune guards even reached 6'0".
Despite being the smaller, and presumably more agile, team, Neptune were being caught out in transition as Killester scored easy basket after easy basket. Jermaine Turner was showing that he had a full reportoire of offensive weapons as he drove to the basket, shot the outside shot and brought his teammates into the game.
Neptune's free throw problems continued while they were unable to get any uncontested looks against the longer Killester defense.
Once again Neptune fought back coming towards the end of the quarter. A 6-2 run before the half was highlighted by a nice back door pass from Thompson to Gary Walsh. Walsh missed the layup but Michael McGinn tipped it in as Neptune were bringing more intensity to the game.
At the half Neptune trailed by 37-28.
An emphasis had obviously been made on defense by Neptune coach Mark Scannell during half time. His team came out of the break with three quick steals but struggled to capitalize with baskets at the other end.
Nobody could accuse Scannell of not being aggressive as Neptune were pressurizing the ball carrier as much as possible defensively, while the offense had more direction working through big man Ronald Thompson in the post.
Thompson's impact was being hindered by Turner as their battle continued. Turner showed great defensive awareness with multiple steals in the lane that were crucial to preventing easy baskets.
The game appeared to be lost for the home side as they entered the fourth quarter down by 57-36.
Neptune eventually brought in their bigger group as Ger Noonan (6'0"), Phil Taylor (6'4") and Ian McLoughlin (6'1") worked the outside. McLoughlin and Taylor are listed as forwards but showed great athleticism in matching up on the perimeter when asked to.
McLoughlin in particular brought an abundance of energy and size to the floor that hand't been there before. He had three steals from the bench as well as a nice block on Jermaine Turner that resulted in a hard foul against the Neptune player.
Killester were shell shocked by Neptune's new lineup as their offensive production almost came to a halt. Neptune were pressuring every shot and not allowing Turner to beat them inside.
A Killester turnover, forced by McLoughlin, led to an easy dunk in transition that cut the lead to nine with just over five minutes to play. In a game that had never appeared close, Neptune were now closing in at a rapid pace.
Ronald Thompson followed up a rebound cutting the lead again before Phil Taylor stole the ball to set up Ger Noonan inside. On the other side of the court, Killester had four straight turnovers as Neptune moved to a full court press.
An exciting finish was set up as Thompson threw a full court pass to McLoughlin who cut the lead to three. Killester's eight straight possessions without a score left the game at 61-58 with two minutes remaining.
Ger Noonan became the focus of the Neptune offense as his bulk and agility was used inside to expose his matchup with Jody O'Neil of Killester. Noonan spun from O'Neil under the basket for an easy two before Killester ran the ball out of bounds before reaching the halfway line.
Neptune were down by three and nearly allowed a turnover at the top of the key from the inbounds pass. However Thompson snatched the ball ahead of Jermaine Turner before beating two defenders and attacking the basket to bring Neptune within one point.
Killester had two free throws on the other end that were converted before Noonan spun again under the basket, but this time set up Thompson for an easy tip in.
With a minute to go, Killester's composure appeared to have abandoned them. Neptune were pressing as much as possible trying to force turnovers which eventually cost them as Killester scored an easy layup in transition to keep the gap at three.
The clock continued to tick down as far as thirty seconds when Phil Taylor missed a three point attempt from the top of the key. Killester had the ball and scored one of the two free throws Neptune gave them to make it a four point game.
Neptune looked to Taylor once again with fifteen seconds to go but he couldn't come up with a basket as he shot from the corner once again.
A disappointing result for the home side will somewhat blight the team's huge derby result from last week. The fight that the team showed in the second half will give them a lot of motivation as their Super League season continues.
In what was a scrappy affair, Killester came away with a four point victory.Neptune 64 Killester 68