Clems looks a real gem as Star start with big win
Latvian Girts Clems made an instant impact for Belfast Star as they crushed Dublin side Kubs 89-49 in their opening game of the All Ireland Superleague campaign.
For years Star have been bereft of a natural point guard to boss the court, but coach Darren O'Neill may just have unearthed a gem in the Latvian as he gave a majestic display on Saturday night.
O'Neill knows there will be much harder tests ahead for the Belfast men but he nevertheless felt a sense of a real hope for this season, having struggled last year to be competitive against the top sides.
"Defensively we were solid and in offence we clearly had more options. When you think Keelan Cairns and Paddy McGaharan only had seven and two points and they were regularly in our top three scorers in each game last year it says a lot about the depth we now have," said O'Neill.
"We're not going to get too carried away because we beat a side that I believe will struggle this year but the way we did it, the way we never missed a beat when we ran the bench.
"Last year when we made substitutions it could lead to a drop offensively and even defensively but that wasn't the case on Saturday night. Our American Ryan Oliver didn't have his best game but then he didn't need to and he still came up with 22 points."
The return of the Quinn twins Aidan and Conor has clearly added a lot to the depth of the bench, while Star are also expecting to have American Garrett Galvin registered for this Saturday night. But it was Clems and Frenchman Clement Kulinicz who really stood out for Star.
"Clement had 19 points and 13 rebounds which is just great and if he can keep getting stats like that then it will be a huge boost for us," added O'Neill.
"I was also happy with the way Girts controlled things. He slotted into the team very well. Now we have to focus on our first home game this Saturday against Maree."