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Bring on Tralee as Star move up to second

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Pain barrier: Liam Pettigrew was taken to hospital
Pain barrier: Liam Pettigrew was taken to hospital
David Kelly

By David Kelly

Liam Pettigrew's grit and tigerish desire helped Belfast Star to one of their best All Ireland Superleague wins in recent years on Saturday night in Templeogue - and left him visiting the hospital with a suspected broken rib.

Pettigrew and Keelan Cairns were twin towers of strength in Star's defence as the Belfast side defeated the Dubliners 90-79 with American Delaney Blaylock top scoring on 23 and CJ Fulton finishing on 18.

But Pettigrew paid a price for his endeavour when crashing to the floor in pursuit of the ball and having to fight through the pain barrier before fouling out with four minutes remaining.

The victory for Star leaves them in second place ahead of a massive battle with Superleague favourites and defending champions Tralee in La Salle College this Saturday night.

"It was a great win for us because there were so many good individual contributions. We enjoyed the victory but immediately on the way home the guys were thinking about the game against Tralee - that's as big as they come," said Fulton.

"In terms of pure basketball we maybe could have played a bit better but in regard to heart, effort and mental toughness this was a big step forward for the whole squad. It's one thing knowing you have the talent to beat the best but there comes a time when you have to show you believe it and they did that."

Fulton was also pleased with the performance of American Blaylock who looked back to his best, which is timely as fellow countryman Ben Marello is heading home today after his two-month deal came to an end.

Fulton added: "Ben did a great job for us when Delaney was injured and we would have happily kept him here but we understand why his agent has decided to move him on. He led the league in scoring for six out of the eight weeks he has been here.

"Delaney is back to where he was at the start of the season. Some of his rebounding was incredible and he delivered at the other end of the court as well."

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