Basketball: U-20 cup

Tolka see off Maree to book date with UCC in decider

by Aaron Dunne
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Tolka Rovers reached the final of the U20 Men’s National Cup edging a close affair against Maree BC 89-81 at Parochial Hall.

Maree got off the mark straight away through Evan O’Rourke’s 3 pointer, but Tolka Rovers were quick to respond with a put back from Sam Badejo. Both teams were accompanied by a huge number of supporters, who were animated from the outset. It proved difficult to separate the sides in the opening minutes, but important steals by Tolka’s guards gifted them a slim lead. Elijah Faapito, who scored 31 points in the game, made some decisive plays in the closing minutes of the first quarter, including an outrageous shot from halfway to beat the end-of-quarter buzzer and give Tolka a 24-17 lead.

Tolka Rovers continued to build on their early lead through fast transition offence, but Maree remained within touching distance.

Basketball Ireland Pat Duffy Cup Semi-Final, Neptune Stadium, Cork 7/1/2023 University of Galway Maree vs Bright St Vincents UG Maree’s Eoin Rockall and Donovan Fields of Bright St Vincents Photo: ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Three kick baskets from the Galway side saw them bring the deficit down to two points early in the 2nd quarter.

Tolka Rovers kept their heads during this period, with big scores coming from James Castro and Brian Curran. Rovers remained ahead at the half-time, 45-37.

Both sides started the second half quickly, with determined drives to the basket on either end of the court.

Faapito continued his dominating performance for Rovers throughout the second half to control their lead. Maree fought back in the 3rd to close the gap to five points, 67-62, going into the final quarter.

 Evan O’Rourke continued to shine for Maree throughout the game, he ended with a game-high 32 points.

Basketball Ireland Pat Duffy Cup Semi-Final, Neptune Stadium, Cork 7/1/2023 DBS Eanna vs Emporium Cork Basketball DBS Eanna’s Joshua Wilson celebrates near the end of the game Photo ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Tension mounted in the closing minutes of the match with Maree closing the gap to one point thanks to an O’Rourke basket with four minutes remaining, to trail 73-72.

Faapito and O’Rourke exchanged baskets, before Tolka kicked on with scores from Matthew Conlon and Ethan Testa Farrelly, to open up a five point lead with two minutes to go.

Huw Bevan’s two pointer for Maree saw them trail 83-79 with 48 seconds left, but the remainder of the game saw the sides exchange free throws and Tolka Rovers would round out a 89-81 win.The National Cup finals weekend takes place at the National Basketball Arena from January 20-22.

Feature Image: ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

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