Ex-Real star driving Swords' double bid
Swords Thunder's push for Super League honours is being spearheaded by a man who learned his trade with Spanish title-holders Real Madrid.
Former academy star Jose Maria Gil Narbon is eyeing a Double, having powered the north Dublin side to National Cup glory, with his final performance earning him MVP.
When Swords coach Dave Baker was first told about Narbon he doubted that a player, many of whose former team-mates now play in the NBA, would want to sign for his side.
However, the promise of a Masters in Business Management at Griffith College (which Swords is affiliated to) through English sealed the deal.
"I wanted to go abroad for one year and play in a different country and study," says Narbon.
"Both my parents are teachers and taught me the importance of studies since I was really small.
"Also in Spain right now basketball is not really good. Ten years ago you got a lot of money and you could live well. But not now, there isn't a lot of money."
Aged 14 Narbon joined Spanish giants Real, who are defending their third consecutive title, under the watchful eye of coach Ettore Messina.
It was Messina, now assistant to NBA side San Antonio spurs, who recommended him to Baker, a former colleague from Dublin.
"At Real Madrid I learned all I know. When I was 18 I was practising with the first team because I was one of the promises of the club," Narbon recalls.
"But I always gave more importance to studies over basketball so I didn't try to go professional."
Baker praises the 25-year-old on the court as "a step above any other player in the country" at the moment. Such pedigree must give Baker an upper hand?
"Sometimes, he could give us a lot more," Baker says. "Half the time I could give him a slap to keep him going."
Narbon and his fellow Spaniard Alex Calvo have helped the Dublin side to second place. Table toppers Templeogue, feeling the heat, will hope to increase their lead when taking on UL Eagles today.
Meanwhile, SSE Airtricity Moycullen will have the challenge of facing Swords' Spanish Inquisition this evening (6.0) in the ALSAA.