RECAP: 2016 Hula Hoops Men's National Cup Final

RECAP: 2016 Hula Hoops Men's National Cup Final

  • Jan 31,2016
Saturday, 30th January, 2016
Hula Hoops Under Men’s National Cup Final
Templeogue 78, GCD Swords Thunder 75
National Basketball Arena

Templeogue beat GCD Swords Thunder to claim their first Hula Hoops Men’s National Cup Trophy with a 78-75 win at the National Basketball Arena. 

It was a maiden final appearance for both sides, but a classic decider. The lead swung four times before Thunder missed a three-pointer on the final buzzer to send the Templeogue faithful into rapture. 

“The way we came out in the third quarter and did our best to lose it in the fourth, it’s a special night,” said Templeogue Coach Mark Keenan with a fourth Cup medal around his neck. “You see the spirit within the group. We always believe we can do it.”
 
It was an adrenaline fuelled opening quarter. Michael Bonaparte showed no ill effects of the injury that prompted rumours of an American recruit being parachuted into the Templeogue lineup. Sean Flood was the early scorer though. Having shot at just 13% in the semi-final, the 19 year old landed three from four triples as Templeogue led 24-16 after 10 minutes. 

From Swords Thunder’s American quartet, it was Dan Nelms who got the nod to start. The Davidson alumnus set about neutralising Jason Killeen on the offensive boards, before Mike Garrow added more penetration into the mix. Then Thunder took over altogether. 

The second quarter was a write off for Templeogue, managing just four points and turning the ball over six times. Isaac Westbrooks upped his steal count and Alex Dolenko contributed a pair of three-pointers to a 10-0 run for a 39-28 lead at the break. 

Ex-Ireland International Paul Cummins was heating up in the second quarter of his first game in 11 weeks. His outside shooting topped up second chance scores from Michael Bonaparte to level the sides at 49-49 late in the third. Stephen James followed up with a couple of down town three-pointers and it took Westbrooks to snap a 13-0 run with the last shot of the third. 

Leading 57-51 with ten minutes left gave no cause for comfort. Michael Bonaparte did. A three-point play and a massive block on Sergi Guardia gave them their first double-digit lead. 

Thunder hadn’t clapped out just yet. Alex Dolenko finished defiantly off his own steal and Dan Nelms’ dunk edge them closer and a Westbrooks jump-shot brought it back to 67-70 with 90 seconds left. 

Jason Killeen completed a double-double with his most precious rebound of the evening to prevent Thunder from an equalising opportunity. Fouled in the process, the also iced the free-throws at the other end. There were just 22 seconds and it was the first time the crowd felt they were looking at champions. 

It was of no consolation to GCD Swords Thunder Head Coach Dave Baker that he was part of a thriller. It was a spectacle, but obviously we’re disappointed. We’re proud to have come so far and we can enjoy that much.”

Templeogue: Michael Bonaparte 21, Stephen James 8, Sean Flood 12, Lorcan Murphy 2, Jason Killeen 17. Substitutes: Ronan McLoughlin, Rob Daly, Paul Cummins 12, Shane Homan, Baolach Morrison 4, Paul Kelly 2, Tomasz Swiatowy. 

GCD Swords Thunder: Dan Nelms 13, Kevin Lacey 10, Alex Dolenko 13, Sergi Guardia 12, Isaac Westbrooks 15. Substitutes: Iulian Corneanu 3, Davy O’Leary, Paul Caffrey, Donal Monaghan, Michael Goj, Derek McMahon 4, Mike Garrow 4. 

MVP: Michael Bonaparte. 
HT: Templeogue 28, GCD Swords Thunder 
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