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Off-target Star crash out of National Cup in last eight

Basketball

Adrian Fulton
Adrian Fulton
David Kelly

By David Kelly

Belfast Star coach Adrian Fulton could not hide how gutted he was after Star exited the National Cup at the quarter-finals stage, going down 78-63 to Eanna in De La Salle College.

It was one of their poorest performances of the season, while credit must go to Eanna who rose to the occasion to seal their place in the semi-finals. American Delaney Blaylock returned to some form, finishing on 26 points but otherwise the Belfast side failed to sparkle.

"It's massively disappointing. Sometimes it comes down to make or miss at all levels of basketball and 63 points is a reflection of how poorly we shot the ball," admitted Fulton, whose side must focus on their assault on the All Ireland Superleague.

Star gave themselves too much do after the first quarter, trailing 25-12 and that 13-point difference was maintained going into the third quarter as Stefan Zecevic and Joshua Wilson, in contrast to Star's top players, converted their opportunities with a calm authority.

Although Star welcomed back American Ben Marello he didn't look to be firing on all cylinders and could only contribute nine points.

Fulton added: "We couldn't really make a massive dent in the deficit in the second half although we did get it to single figures a few times. Ultimately we didn't shoot the ball well enough despite plenty of good opportunities.

"They have lost only two games all season, including once to us, and are a very good team. They deserve credit because they slowed us down and we never got in a rhythm.

"We need to turn the page quickly and our only focus right now is DCU and trying to win our three games before Christmas which will be a challenge as it is a difficult run. But, if we want to be in the mix at the end of the league we need to go on a run.

"Ben still isn't 100% healthy and never got into a good rhythm. Delaney played well and will continue to get better.

"We just need to figure out a way of blending the talent that we have to get the highest level of performance out of the team. We beat Eanna on the road without a number of players and with a full roster we lost on Saturday night."

Fulton and his men will certainly have to exorcise the pain of this loss very quickly such is the competitive nature of this year's Superleague.

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