Sunday 23 July 2017

Westbrooks hoping to follow father's footsteps in Cup bid

Isaac Westbrooks. Photo: Sportsfile
Isaac Westbrooks. Photo: Sportsfile

Barry Lennon

Swords Thunder's Isaac Westbrooks admits his 60-year-old father Jerome still shows him up on the basketball court.

Westbrooks (31) hopes to follow in his footsteps once more in tonight's semi-final of the National Cup - a competition his dad won in 2008, then aged 51.

"He's still playing Division 1 with Killester (in the Dublin league) making the rest of us look bad. He's laid down the gauntlet. I've only got 30 more years to match him," Isaac says.

"I played on teams with dad before which is special as he coached me into the basketball player that I am. I'd play with him again in a heartbeat."

A Swords' victory over Moycullen in Cork's Neptune Stadium (4.0) could see Isaac face his old club Killester in the final - the side his dad first played for 36 years ago.

"I still get a lot of stick for not playing for them but my blood runs black and orange of Killester. After last year's heartbreak I don't care who we play, whether it's UCD or Killester (the other semi-final at 8.0)," Isaac adds.

"Dad won't be there today. (If both sides make the final) it'd be tough for him to cheer against Killester but impossible to cheer against his son. He'd definitely be torn."

Isaac is in the middle of his final-year exams for a Sports Management degree, juggling as many commitments as Jerome did when he first moved to Dublin from his native Chicago in 1981.

Back then Jerome had to work alongside playing ball - first as a waiter dressed as a New York cop in an American-themed restaurant on Suffolk Street, a social worker and then a teacher in Sutton's St Fintan's.

Isaac had an equally eventful career. Aged 17, he moved to a Colorado high school to play basketball, where he also met his wife Angie.

"Their overall approach is very professional. Their basketball IQ though was below what I would have experienced here in Ireland," he recalls.

After returning to Ireland to complete his Leaving Cert, Westbrooks played in Spain, Iceland and then England before deciding to return home.

"I knew I could come back here and play at a decent level and I was eager to start a family and settle down," he says.

Griffith Swords have knocked out champions Templeogue in the cup, revenge after suffering a three-point final defeat last year to the south Dublin team.

The side are second in the Super League, providing Moycullen with formidable opposition.

However, Westbrooks is not taking anything for granted. "They're dangerous, young and there's no give in them," he warns.

Meanwhile, in the women's National Cup Courtyard Liffey Celtics face DCU Mercy at 6.0 in today's semi-final.

Irish Independent

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