Team Coppers went into this game with newcomers Svyturys expecting to keep their 100% record intact but came out second best in a high-scoring, entertaining game. Svyturys is made up of Lithuanian players based in Portlaoise making this a new local derby for the Panthers club and the newcomers came out on top on this occasion.
In front of a great crowd, this game was played at a frantic pace throughout which shows in the high final score. From the beginning of the game both sides played full court pressure defence trying to keep their opponents from settling into the game.
This type of game was always going to result in a high scoring contest with neither defence ever getting totally in control. As the game eventually slowed down, Team Coppers went to work inside on offence with Jack and Craig Scully doing the damage. The first quarter ended with the Panthers club side in the lead 28-20.
In the second quarter Svyturys began to take advantage of the game as Team Coppers showed early signs of tiring. Through sharp-shooters Gedas Simkus and Renaldas Bartusevicius, the game had turned around with Svyturys piling on the pressure against this young Portlaoise team. Team Coppers responded through Jack Dooley who was impressive inside throughout on his first ever senior start. But the clinical shooting from beyond the arc from the newcomers gave them an eight point lead going in at the break.
Svyturys went to work again early in the third finding their range from every angle. Team Coppers continued to press the game but could not find the scores in offence to cut into the lead. The newcomers kept their work rate up while also finding another gear allowing them to push further ahead approaching the end of the third.
The game would have been well out of reach but for the massive presence of the Scully brothers and Jack Dooley inside whom between them were racking up big personal tallies. Team Coppers left themselves a mountain to climb going into the last quarter as Svyturys took a twenty point lead into the last quarter.
Most sides would look to play out the game with such a deficit with only ten minutes to play but Team Coppers men never gave up hope and quickly went to work on cutting the deficit with the introduction of Evan Maher and Chris Higgins. The fresh legs helped to improve the defence and created a number of turnovers with Higgins finishing off at the other end. With the crowd right behind the Panthers side, they closed the gap right down with some excellent work inside, bringing Portlaoise to within five points of Svyturys. Unfortunately this was to be as close as the game was to get as indiscipline resulted in the newcomers finishing the game off from the free throw line and pushed the lead back out to eight points. Team Coppers will look forward to the return leg of this encounter and to gain bragging rights in this new derby match.
Team Coppers: Jack Scully, Jack Dooley, Craig Scully, Chris Higgins, David Glynn, Evan Maher, James Dunne, Jamie Dooley, Alan Buckley, Conor Dunne, Neil Fennell, Ross Cullen, Denis Curtin. Coach: Benny O’Donovan.