BallinEurope is going to cast its eyes over a few of Europe’s top and not so top national league over the next week or so as we get back into the regular grind of European basketball. First up, the league in the same nation as BiE Towers, Ireland
Last year was a true first for Irish basketball as UCC Demons became the first team in history to have a perfect season in all competitions, claiming the league, playoffs, and cup title in the process. There’s not a whole lot of reason to expect them to lose their crowns this year, yup all of them, but there are some reasons to believe they won’t run the table.
First off, Templeogue and UCD Marian both look stronger. In the case of the former, they will have a full season with both Jason Killeen and Conor Grace. They accelerated dramatically through the closing stages of the Irish season when they had both men healthy and that’s a big factor in liking them to do well this season. With UCD Marian, they just look deeper. They have more bodies that can play real minutes this year, having effectively gone with a 6 man rotation for large parts of last year due to some legitimate depth issues and a few injury problems. Add in a year of experience for Swords Thunder, who had flashes but looked like a team still needing time to get everything together last seasons, and you’ve got to like them to be better this season.
There are, of course, some new kids on the block. Moycullen return to the Premier League, giving the league a vital presence in the west of Ireland. Eanna BC also step up, ensuring there are now three teams based on the south side of Dublin in the top flight. These advancements however didn’t come without losses. Dublin Inter, a side heavily made up of Lithuanian players, have withdrawn entirely from the national leagues, but then there’s the big one. Neptune BC, the one Irish team there was a chance folks on the continent would have heard of, are down a division this year by choice. They cited the loss of Roy Downey to Demons as a decisive factor but if one 21 year-old leaving your club is the difference between top tier and second tier basketball, you’ve got to look at what happened to get there. Irish basketball definitely needs Neptune but it needs Neptune to be smart and good or at least just the former. Hopefully it’s just a one year absence.
The draw for the national cup was today. The first round sees everyone play in a home and away situation over two legs. Two of these winners will then play in a play-in game for the last semi-final slot. Here’s who got who with the first team listed at home first…
UL Eagles vs UCC Demons
Moycullen vs Templeogue
Swords Thunder vs Eanna
Belfast Star vs Killester
UCD Marian vs DCU Saints
The last of those match-ups promises to be the most interesting. BallinEurope should have live coverage of the first leg along with a few other games featuring UCD Marian this year. On that, we expect to be making some big announcements on streaming and are looking at one interesting announcement involving the league in the coming weeks.
As for the league itself, games begin on 3 October. Here’s the first round of games…
UCD Marian vs Belfast Star
Templeogue vs UCC Demons
Eanna vs Swords Thunder
UL Eagles vs DCU Saints
Killester vs Moycullen
Lastly there’s the small matter of Hibernia Basketball, Ireland’s brave return to European Basketball which is just a touch related to the civil war in hoops on this continent. A combination of players from across the league will make up the side and in a largely amateur situation, that’s going to prove testing. For the best players in the league, it’s a great opportunity, but it’s going to be interesting to see what impact it has on the league itself.