“We shot the lights out”- White

By Stephen Leonard

Dublin Lions Head Coach praises his men after they secured promotion to the Super League ranks

DUBLIN Lions Head Coach Rob White admitted his players far exceeded his expectations after they secured promotion to the Super League ranks following their 79-70 point victory over C and S Neptune in the relegation/promotion play-off in IT Carlow.

The Clondalkin side blasted out of the blocks to lead by six at the close of the first quarter with a good spread of scoring from Muhamed Sabic, Igor Markiewicz, Finn Hughes and American Conroy Baltimore.

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Finn Hughes was top scorer for Dublin Lions in their clash with Neptune.

The gap was enlarged to 11 by the halftime recess before Neptune tried to mount a recovery in the third through big scoring from Lehmon Colbert and Roy Downey.

But Hughes served up some timely baskets to leave the Lions in front 59-52 heading into the final quarter during which the gap was reduced to three.

Yet Rob White’s men held firm, and late scores from Sabic and Jack Maguire saw them over the line in their pursuit of victory and, with it, promotion to the top ranks.

Praising the performance of his team, White told The Echo “The lads had every thought that they could win and get promoted. I was just hoping we wouldn’t get hammered.

“Neptune were competing in the Super League and against the top six there they lost by just a combined score of 30 points, which is nothing. That’s an average of just five points per team.

“Obviously it was going to be a huge task, but when we shoot well, we’re a very hard team to beat and we shot the lights out in the first quarter.

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Dublin Lions celebrate promotion to the Super League.

“We always felt that if we could stay close to them [Neptune] heading into the fourth quarter then they might shoot themselves in the foot, that we mightn’t have to do anything amazing, just stay close and they might implode.

“But we were 11 points up at halftime so of course we were going to really go for it.

“Finn Hughes was excellent for us. He was our top scorer on 18. Muhamed Sabic hit 17 and he and Jack Maguire were brilliant defensively.

“Conroy Baltimore was very good and hit 16 points and Samuel Mohamed was also brilliant offensively and got some big scores for us at crucial times.

“Neptune hadn’t played a game in about three or four weeks. We had 10 days to prepare for this match and even then it was hard to keep the players focused for those ten days, so I can’t imagine how hard it was for Neptune to stay focused for those few weeks.

“But we’re delighted. Moving up to the Super League will present a new set of problems. You’re up against better teams and players and more experienced coaches, but we want to be going up against the best” he insisted.

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