With one week to go in the league before the playoffs begin, it is all to play for in the Letterkenny Basketball Summerleague.
Game 1: Lakers 39 – Clippers 73
A weakened Lakers squad took the floor against the in form Clippers and it was clear from the start how this would pan out. In the most lopsided victory in Summerleague history, the young Clippers ran in lay-up after lay-up against their opponents for easy scores to build a huge lead early on. Big scoring from Paul Murray, Moe Ismail and Steve Cannon ensured they had put this game out of sight in the first half. Connor Reid (Lakers) tried hard to get his team back in it but the deficit was too much and Clippers won big. Top Scorers: (Lakers) Connor Reid 18pts and (Clippers) Steve Cannon 25pts.
Game 2: Magic 50 – Bulls 53
This was a close game right the way through until the final buzzer. Bulls were in need of a win to keep their playoff hopes alive. Troy Morris got to the basket and converted early on, but Magic’s Erik Dragunas matched him. Bulls hit back through their veteran Arnold Custodio who scored a team high. Magic never gave up and Edvinas Dapsys and Daniel McArdle ran the break to notch up scores. The game went back and forth the whole way through until the end when Bulls were up 6 with seven seconds to go. Dragunas hit a three-pointer to narrow the gap to three points, but Bulls held the ball in the dying seconds to grab a win. Top Scorers: (Magic) Erik Dragunas 14pts and (Bulls) Arnold Custodio 16pts.
Game 3: Celtics 58 – Thunder 53
Both teams started hot offensively with Billy Banda (Thunder) and Renatas Jocys (Celtics) getting on the scoreboard. Mike Foy went down with an injury for the Thunder and as they had no sub (a problem their team has faced all Summerleague), they had to play 4v4 for the remainder of the game. Aidan Campbell took advantage of this extra space for the Thunder and notched up a tremendous 33points for the game. Celtic’s Ejder Akkoc played very tough inside and was scoring at ease it seemed. A couple of costly turnovers down the stretch for the Thunder hurt them and Celtics capitalised to win in a closely fought game. Top Scorers: (Celtics) Ejder Akkoc 17pts and (Thunder) Aidan Campbell 33pts.
Game 4: Lakers 43 – Magic 44
Both teams were missing their big centre so this would prove to be a well matched game and it didn’t disappoint for the neutral fans as it went right down to the wire. Lakers started sharper jumping into a 10-4 lead through scores from Darryl Hamm and Kieran O’Neill. Mark Cannon hit back with a couple of drives to the basket to get his team on the scoreboard. Joseph King then tied the game up on a lovely reverse lay-up and then we had multiple lead changes until the end. Eduardas Diktonas shot the ball extremely well for the Lakers. Edvinas Dapsys grabbed two monster blocks for the Magic and Erik Dragunas scored a number of tough drives in the final few minutes to keep it close and give Magic a two-point lead with 10seconds to go. Kieran O’Neill came down the court and hit a deep three-pointer to put the Lakers up one with four seconds left. Magic called a time-out and found Mark Cannon in the post with the inbound pass, but he was fouled in the process. He calmly knocked down two free throws to put Magic up 1. Diktonas scored a shot after the buzzer had sounded for the Lakers but it was too late and Magic held on to win by a point. Top Scorers: (Lakers) Kieran O’Neill 21pts and (Magic) Mark Cannon 21pts.
Game 5: Thunder 38 – Bulls 52
Once again the Thunder struggled with numbers, missing their big man inside, but Bulls were missing their top scorer so it was all to play for. Conor Dorrian started great scoring on numerous post moves in the opening half for the Thunder. Ger Murray used his speed to beat his opponents up the court and scored on lovely drives for the Bulls, whilst displaying great handles for a big man. With Thunder missing players, young Andrew McGeever got called up for his Summerleague debut and he held his own throughout. Padhraic Coll scored well for the Thunder, while Gilbert Castillo played tough for the Bulls. The difference maker in the game was Conor McGoohan who had a superb all round game, and couldn’t be contained. Bulls ran out winners. Top Scorers: (Thunder) Andrew McGeever/Conor Dorrian 9pts and (Bulls) Ger Murray 18pts.
Game 6: Celtics 52 – Clippers 64
This game proved to be a classic shooting display by two players and was great to watch. Paul McHugh (Celtics) scored a Summerleague record 35points with four three-pointers and Steve Cannon (Clippers) scored 26points with six three-pointers. Clippers lead early with scores from Cannon and Moe Ismail, who were finding numerous gaps in the Celtics defence. Andrew McGeady and McHugh answered back with drives of their own. Shaun Wogan (Clippers) hit a number of mid-range jumpers to maintain the lead. Alex Liu came into the game more in the second half for the Celtics with his aggressive drives, but the speed of the clippers proved too much and they ran out winners. Top Scorers: (Celtics) Paul McHugh 35pts and (Clippers) Steve Cannon 26pts.