Scotts Lakers 99
Waterford Vikings 80
Killarney Sports Centre
Before this game had even tipped off, the Waterford Vikings had the look of a team who weren’t expecting much from their trip to Killarney. Basketball warm-ups seem fairly laid back to me anyway (it’s hard to imagine a footballer, for example, doing a pre-match drill with a pair of headphones on) but the visitors looked especially relaxed as they loosened out ahead of Saturday evening’s encounter.
To be fair to the Vikings, it must be hard to get fired up for a difficult road game considering the start they’ve had. Prior to Saturday they had lost all nine of their league fixtures, including a 73-102 home defeat to the Lakers in September. In short, the Vikings had little cause for optimism.
As it panned out, things went pretty much to script for the Lakers at the Auracle, despite the best efforts of Vikings centre Daniel Noe who was the game’s top scorer with 29 points. Unfortunately for the Virginia native, he had little or “Noe” help from his teammates (lol).
Between them the Vikings shot three air balls in the opening four minutes alone and defensively they struggled to cope with Lakers big men Andy Fitzgerald and Papito Hersisia. When a beautiful pass from Seán O’Brien teed up Dailian Mason for a corner three at the end of the first, the hosts led 33-23.
The Lakers had doubled their advantage by the half-time horn and, realistically, the game was already over as a contest. All in all, there was very little to shout about in that first half. In fact, the real entertainment came at the interval.
There were smiles all around as MC Botty went into the crowd and pulled two special guests onto the floor: Neil O’Brien and Gerry Tuason, the proud fathers of American stars Seán and Justin. Neil and his wife Terry made the long journey from Pennsylvania to see their son play, while Gerry came all the way from San Francisco.
Neil and Gerry went head-to-head in a highly-entertaining shooting comp and the latter just about completed the challenge first, much to the delight of Justin who rushed onto the court to congratulate his old man. (My favourite part was when Tuason Sr flamboyantly dribbled the ball behind his back, which wasn’t very practical considering that it was supposed to be a race. Now we know where Justin gets his sense of showmanship from.)
Speaking after the game, Justin joked that he was concerned for his dad’s safety.
“I was scared he was gonna get hurt,” he said. “The dude is old, man. I thought he was gonna pull a muscle or something. Luckily we shot the day before. That was the first time he had picked up a ball in years.”
Later, in the fourth quarter, the younger Tuason was responsible for the other highlight of the night when he stole the ball at half court, attacked the basket and elevated for the two-handed slam. We don’t see too many in-game dunks around these parts and it was certainly a bright spark in an otherwise unremarkable game.
“I had all the motivation I needed with dad in the crowd,” Tuason said. “That was my first one in Killarney too. I was due one – I can’t just be dunking in lay-up lines!”
Dutchman Papito Hersisia impressed for the Lakers, finishing up with 28 points in a strong overall performance. Papito’s girlfriend was also in town to see him play. The Lakers might want to fly her over on a weekly basis if he’s going to be putting up numbers like that.
The result means that the Lakers remain joint second in the Southern Conference, level with the Limerick Celtics (8-2) but with a game in hand. Cormac O’Donoghue’s team have their sights set on leaders Ballincollig (11-0) and Tuason, never short on confidence, thinks that this Lakers outfit have a real chance of winning silverware this season.
“We can go far,” he said. “The sky’s the limit for us.”
Scotts Lakers: Papito Hersisia (28), Seán O’Brien (24), Dailian Mason (15), Mark Greene (10), Justin Tuason (9), Séamus Brosnan (4), Andrew Fitzgerald (4), Cian Clernon (3), James Murphy (2), Pádraig Lucey and Shane McCarthy.
Waterford Vikings: Daniel Noe (29), Ryan Pepper (10), Jack Murphy (9), Emmanuel Anaba (8), James Robinson (8), Dale Kavanagh (8), Daniel Sheehan (4), Cian O’Rourke (2) and Scott Dunphy (2).
UL Eagles (a) Saturday, Nov 17 at 7pm
Portlaoise Panthers (h) Saturday, Nov 24 at 7.30pm
Fr Mathews (a) Tuesday, Nov 27 at 8pm
Limerick Celtics (h) Saturday, Dec 1 at 7pm
P W L F A PD Pts
Ballincollig 11 11 0 969 761 +208 33
Scotts Lakers 10 8 2 896 778 +118 24
Limerick Celtics 11 8 3 873 850 +23 24
IT Carlow 10 7 3 785 711 +74 21
Portlaoise 11 6 5 857 905 -48 18
Fr Mathews 10 4 6 798 838 -40 12
UL Eagles 10 2 8 749 801 -52 6
LIT 10 1 9 763 860 -97 3
Waterford 11 0 11 770 956 -186 0