There was no silver lining for Team Left Bank Kilkenny as they lost the Men’s National Shield basketball final in agonising fashion.
Having fought hard for the opening three quarters in Saturday’s final at the National Basketball Arena, the Cats were pipped when a late charge from the JM&L Auctioneers Titans saw the Galway side make off with the spoils on a 68-65 scoreline.
Team Left Bank converted the majority of their first half baskets in the opening quarter, then gave a fantastic defensive display in the second period. They prevented their Galway opponents from controlling the play, scoring heavily when in and around the basket.
Although the Titans took an early lead they couldn’t cope with the relentless pressure from the Kilkenny defence.
Team Left Bank dragged themselves back into the game thanks to a steal from point guard Puff Summers.
Further baskets from James Butler and Brian Hogan, as well as a couple of free throws from Padraig Morrissey, turned the game around for the Kilkenny side as they darted into the lead midway through the second quarter.
Having led by four at half-time (29-25), Team Left Bank hit a slump in the third quarter.
Taking shots instead of going for better, passing options stifled their scoring and allowed the Titans to half a 10-point deficit. Point guard Chris Coyne did the damage for the Galway side, but two Padraig Morrissey free throws edged Kilkenny seven clear with a quarter to play.
The Shield was beckoning for Team Left Bank, but their charge unravelled in a final quarter where the lead changed hands six times.
Pressing on, the Titans picked off baskets from Tomas Mitikus, but long range efforts from Butler, aided by strong play from Summers meant that Team Left Bank kept their noses in front.
It looked like the Titans would need a miracle but, working hard, they reduced the gap to one point through Mitkus and free throws from captain Paulis Peldzius.
The scene was set for an incredible ending to the final, but it was the Titans who completed an incredible comeback. Producing some great offensive play, they outscored Kilkenny in the final stages to snatch the spoils and leave Team Left Bank heartbroken.
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