Belfast Telegraph

Americans serve up a dramatic night to remember

 

By David Kelly

Hollywood could hardly have written a finer script for the manner in which the inaugural Hall of Fame Basketball Classic came to a conclusion, with Towson's Mike Morsell sinking a sensational final shot basket to seal a momentous victory.

Watched by a million homes on CBS in the States on Saturday night, it was a final fitting for what proved to be a great event, brought to fruition by former Belfast Star player and Irish international Gareth Maguire.

Manhattan College had led the whole game up until two minutes to go and seemed to have the trophy in the bag when they re-took the lead but Morsell had other ideas with just a second remaining to secure a 56-55 win.

Event organiser Maguire is now looking to an even bigger extravaganza next year with eight top US College teams heading to Belfast, a city which well and truly made its mark on the Americans.

"Everyone who came from the States was blown away by the reception they received and the whole set-up of the event and they can't wait to come back for more. From my point of view it could hardly have gone any better," said Maguire.

"When you have big players, like Sports Illustrated, ESPN and CBS, who were broadcasting the event, tweeting continually about the event, it says everything about the interest this generated. I'm just very grateful to everyone who made it happen including the SSE Arena who did a great job.

"This was all about promoting basketball and raising the aspirations of kids, and we delivered on both counts, and now we're already looking forward to next year which will be even better.

"We wanted the rubber stamp of approval from the Americans because obviously this was a big deal for them, to take US College games out of the States and thankfully they were very pleased.

"For Northern Ireland it was a great advertisement because in between games we had a 20-minute film that went out on CBS which highlighted sport here and what it has done for the community, whether it's boxing, rugby, football or golf."

On a weekend when Americans were centre stage, Belfast Star were glad to see the arrival of Deangelo Legrier who could well turn into a real gem.

The American top scored on 22 in a 75-65 All Ireland Superleague victory for Star over Kubs at the Antrim Forum.

"He only got off the plane on Friday so there was no time to train, so he did a good job and there's a lot more to come," said Star coach Darren O'Neill.

"We got the result but not the performance. I think mentally the guys were flat because we had beaten Kubs by 30 earlier in the season. But I'm happy to get the win."

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