A PLACE in the final of the InsureMyVan.ie Super League is at stake at the Kingfisher Gym in Galway on Saturday evening (8pm) as Belfast Star head west to take on University of Galway Maree.
Star reached the last four thanks to their 73-69 win over Neptune at La Salle last weekend but will know they need a better performance if they are to reach the decider.
The teams have met twice already this season with the score standing at one win apiece as Saturday's hosts won their cup quarter-final, with Star taking the league points.
Max Cooper topped the box score for Belfast Star on that occasion, but Cooper hasn’t played since the middle of January after sustaining an injury. In his absence Chrishon Briggs, Conor and Aidan Quinn and Max Richardson have all taken turns to step up for Adrian Fulton’s side.
"Massive challenge but one we’re looking forward to," said Star head coach Adrian Fulton ahead of the tie.
"They aren’t National Cup champions for nothing. Charlie (Crowley) has done a terrific job with this squad. They have plenty of talent and depth, so will we have to be at our very best for as close to 40 minutes as possible. If we are, we will be right there."
AMHARC: Nuacht @TG4TV preview our big Superleague Semi v Belfast Star (Sat - 8pm, Kingfisher). Cathal Finn is interviewed + clips from our QF win v Sligo All-Stars & our Cup QF win v Belfast Star— University of Galway Maree Basketball #WeBelieve (@UGMareeBball) March 22, 2023
- A night not to be missed! #Galway #BISL #Gaeilge pic.twitter.com/5DiPoRN9wm
It promises to be a closely-contested affair with the winners advancing to me either UCC Demons or Emporium Cork Basketball in the final.
Maree coach, Crowley, insists "it’s as big a game as Galway has ever hosted," and acknowledges the size of the task at hand.
The InsureMyHouse.ie Pat Duffy Cup champions outlasted EJ Sligo All-Stars to reach this stage, but 25-year-old Crowley believed his team will need to ‘improve mentally and physically’ to have any chance of getting over the Belfast outfit.
Maree ended the regular season with the best record in the InsureMyVan.ie Super League and two of the form players in the country in the shape of Jarett Haines and Rodrigo Gomez. They’ve also managed to reach this point holding their form well despite the pageantry and distraction of lifting silverware mid-season.
In Division One, Ulster University will bid to reach the playoff final when they travel to face Malahide CS on Saturday at 7pm with the winner to meet either Moy Tolka Rovers or Limerick Sport Eagles in the decider.