Dublin Inter produced one of the biggest shocks in Irish basketball last weekend when they defeated Irish Cup holders Neptune of Cork to reach this year’s National Cup final.
This was Inter’s second huge result in the competition after they eliminated last year’s league winners, University of Limerick, overturning an 11-point deficit in the quarter final.
Inter went into the game full of confidence and dominated the opening exchanges, an attitude and approach that led to them leading the game from start to finish, although Neptune did draw level once in the final quarter in an intense closing phase.
After five minutes, Inter were 14-3 ahead, with a three-pointer from Mindaugus opening the scoring and Aurimus Statkus causing problems for the home side.
Having defended well and taken the opportunities which came their way Inter led 27–11 at the end of the first quarter.
Under-20 star Roy Downey led the charge back for Neptune, connecting on 11 points to lift his team and bring their score back to a nine-point deficit at half time. Inter led 43-34, having been some 17 points clear at one stage.
The third quarter was the first time the game settled into any sort of rhythm as teams traded baskets. Crucially, it showed that Inter, the massive underdogs, would not wilt after the first Neptune charge and by the end of the period, they led 58-46.
However, with a minute and a half remaining, Neptune drew level, but a terrific three-pointer from Mazvydas Cepliasuskas underlined Inter’s determination to return to Dublin with a cup final place secured. They added another point from a free throw to finish up worthy winners by four points.
Despite all of the obstacles they march on to the final where they will face another Cork opponent, Demons, who have won all but one game that they have played this year.
Inter’s squad is largely made up of Lithuanian nationals who live and work in this country. Seventeen-year-old Lorcan Glennon from Palmerstown is also a team member. The team was based in Palmerstown Community School for the past number of years and in 2013, moved to Mountainview Community Hall in Blanchardstown where they play their home matches.
“With no sponsor and few resources, the team has managed to reach the final of the men’s National Cup competition in only their second year playing at this level,” said club committee member John Glennon.
“It is a particularly poignant and significant achievement as the club lost its founder and mentor Toomas Illves in tragic circumstances just before the season started.”
The final will be held at the National Basketball Arena in Tallaght on January 24.