Belfast Telegraph

Fulton joy as Belfast Star raise play-off hopes

By David Kelly

A season that seemed to be slipping into obscurity has been transformed in the past four weeks by Belfast Star.

Now with just two games remaining, Adrian Fulton's men have a realistic opportunity to make the top four play-offs of the All Ireland Premier League on the back of a gritty 61-54 victory over UL Eagles at the weekend.

It cannot be a coincidence that Star's improved displays have come since Fulton took over as the head coach after the departure of Jose Maria Berracol.

There seems to be a real belief among the players, as seen against the Eagles in a do-or-die match that dented the Limerick side's play-off hopes to some degree.

Star's tactic of trying to contain the penetration of influential Eagles guard Scott Kinevane paid dividends, while Paul Dick gave another eye-catching performance, hitting two big free throws to make sure the Eagles didn't get a bonus point.

"We knew that it would have to be three wins from three from here on out so that is one," said Fulton.

"We have actually played better this season and lost but at this stage of the season it was all about just getting the right result.

"It was a breakthrough win for us because there was a lot riding on the match and the pressure was really put on the guys when the Eagles came right back at us late on.

"There have been games earlier in the season when we were in winning positions and let it slip but the big thing here was that the guys held their nerve.

"The Basketball Ireland stats show that we are the worst for rebounds but on Sunday our rebounding was great.

"Frank Otis, Paul Dick and Matthew Jackson were outstanding for us but I must say that everyone really dug in to get the win.

"The Eagles have a double header next week against Dublin Inter and Templeogue and then they have Killester in the final game of the regular season, so I'm hoping that Inter can do us a favour.

"But of course we have to do our part and beat Marian away next weekend. If we can take it into the last weekend then anything can happen because I would be hopeful that Killester would beat the Eagles.

"I'm just delighted that the boys are starting to see their hard work pay off and that we're in with a shout of the play-offs."

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