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Fulton defiant despite 24-hour fixture nightmare

Basketball

Aidan Quinn
Aidan Quinn
David Kelly

By David Kelly

Belfast Star coach Adrian Fulton has hit out at Basketball Ireland's decision to force the club to play two away games in separate competitions in the space of 24 hours this weekend.

Star travel to Galway tomorrow evening before playing Maree away in the National Cup on Saturday afternoon (4pm) and must then immediately make their way to their hotel in Killarney before meeting Killorglin in the All Ireland Superleague at 3pm on Sunday.

The decision left everyone at club baffled and, despite making their case to the governing body, the Star men were told they had to fulfil the fixtures.

"I just cannot understand why the fixtures have been organised like this," said Fulton.

"Since when do you play in two different competitions in the space of 24 hours? We're a team made up of guys who have full-time jobs as well as a couple of professionals and we're being asked to play tough games on the road which involves a serious amount of travelling - I just don't get it.

"We flagged up our concerns but it didn't make any difference so we have to focus on the challenge and I would like to think that my players are more determined than ever to go and put in two big performances.

"It's going to be tough but I will just take it as it comes and we keep our focus on the cup game against Maree before we can think about the away game against Killorglin."

Star have been hit hard by the injury to American professional Delaney Blaylock, who will be out for at least three weeks.

Following an MRI scan, it was confirmed that he had suffered a hairline fracture of his right knee in last Saturday's All Ireland Superleague victory over Moycullen.

The Belfast men had feared the worst, believing the talented 22-year-old could have been out for the season so Fulton admits there was a sense of relief at the news. While they will be without Blaylock this weekend, Star will see Swedish ace Dave Jallow make his debut.

"It could have been a lot worse for Delaney so we're just happy that he will be returning next month but obviously it has given us a lot to think about and I will only have one session to work on technical issues about how we set up without him," added Fulton.

"You just don't simply replace someone like Delaney because he brings so much to the court, including 20-25 points a game which now have to be found from somewhere else.

"There's no doubt every player in the squad will have to step up 10 per cent this weekend and we are going to need good scores from guys like Keelan Cairns, Aidan Quinn and Jallow who will be having a baptism of fire."

Fulton will also need two potent displays from 17-year-old son CJ if they are to come away with double header delight.

"If we could get the two wins this weekend it would be a massive boost to our confidence and give us great momentum," said Fulton.

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