Blaylock top class but no title talk yet, insists Fulton
American Delaney Blaylock picked the right time to produce his best performance in a Belfast Star shirt as he inspired his team-mates to remain joint top of the All-Ireland Superleague.
It may be too early to talk about title glory with eight games remaining but Star have put together a fine run of form founded on guile, skill and a defiant fortitude - so often lacking in previous seasons - that has their supporters beginning to dream.
That resilience and belief was shown in abundance against Dublin side Killester at La Salle College on Saturday night as they came through a tense battle to triumph 90-83.
Blaylock was a colossus at both ends of the court. Jet-heeled around the boards, he was just as potent when keeping the scoreboard ticking over as Star felt the pressure of a Killester side who belied their second-from-bottom position in the Superleague. The Dubliners held a 19-18 lead after the first quarter before Star edged 39-38 in front at half-time.
With Star 61-59 ahead after the third quarter, Isaac Westbrookes, for so long a star of this league, was overshadowed by fellow guard CJ Fulton as the 17-year-old once more found another gear when it mattered most, scoring 12 of his 20 points in the final quarter. But it was Blaylock, top scoring on 34 points, who shone the brightest.
Star coach Adrian Fulton said: "Delaney's pure talent was there for everybody to see but also his work rate. He was just outstanding. He carried us offensively for three quarters of the game and naturally tired a little in the fourth quarter but then CJ, Keelan Cairns and Aidan Quinn came up with big contributions.
"It's a huge win for us because this was a proper game of basketball. I can't believe that Killester are where they are in the league, though they have been hit hard throughout the season with injuries. I had watched them the week before in Galway but they went to a different level.
"So, we needed everybody to show the character required to win a dogfight like this and Delaney gave us that bit of magic. All-round he was terrific.
"We're in a very good position but there is a long way to go and this league has so much quality that every game from here on is going to be like a cup final."