Saturday’s match in the National Basketball League against Tolka Rovers was one Team Left Bank desperately wanted to maintain their form from last week’s derby win over Portlaoise Panthers.
The first quarter saw Left Bank’s characteristic zone press defence put Tolka under enormous pressure, limiting them to 12 points with nine coming from beyond the three point line. Captain James Butler led the press and made a number of interceptions to compliment his usual contribution of big rebounds at both ends of the floor.
Puff Summers led the scoring with an impressive 12 for the quarter, while Brian Hogan and Lukasz Szulc had four each. Pádraig Morrissey and James Butler also notched scores to bring the total to a whopping 27-12 for the first quarter.
This was highly significant as the first quarter had repeatedly seen Left Bank stumble in the opening two games of the season. This has been an aspect of the game that was targeted in training by coach Damien Brett and it’s great to see it pay off.
The home team made a raft of changes for the second quarter. Tolka, who realised they were in a real game, came back strongly. Left Bank’s defensive structure became a bit ragged and Tolka showed that they deserved respect.
On offence Left Bank also lost their shape somewhat and managed just 14 points to Tolka’s 16, leaving the score at the half 41-28 in favour of the home team.
The second half play ebbed and flowed. Tolka narrowed the deficit to 10 points. Left Bank extended it back closer to the 20 mark. Tolka’s guards Caffrey and Quinn put in strong performances and scored sweetly from long range. This will be concern the coaching staff as it was the perimeter shooting of the guests that kept them in the game.
The visitors have a very tall squad and they rely on their rebounding prowess to earn second opportunities at the basket. By sticking to the game plan Left Bank cut down the error count. Second chances simply did not arise.
Apart from the concession of those perimeter shots, the Left Bank defence could not have been more solid for large parts of the game. To hold a National League team to 59 points is a major achievement. The score was 80-59 to the home team.
The team will not be resting on its laurels, coach Damien Brett insisted. While there were huge positives and Left Bank are improving they will have to do better in Galway on Saturday, November 16 against annual title contenders Galway Titans.
The team was really appreciative of the support from the wonderful crowd. Such support helped bring greater intensity and focus to training sessions. The home venue at O’Loughlin’s GAA club is living up to its nickname of ‘The Dungeon’ and that is down to the electric atmosphere. DJ Noel Murphy kept the atmosphere pumped up.
Team Left Bank scorers - Laurence ‘Puff’ Summers (30), James Butler (15), Lucas Szulc (12), Brian Hogan (8), Pádraig Morrisey (7), Lughaidh Ó Néill (4), Eugene Walsh (2), Philip Brennan (2), Ciarán Purcell, Dusan Rabat, Vincentas Slovikas, Liam O’Shaughnessy, Seán Kenny, Sam Martin.