Belfast Telegraph

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Coach calls on players to raise their game with Cup tie looming

 

By David Kelly

Belfast Star coach Darren O'Neill says his players will have to raise their game if they are to progress to the quarter-finals of the Cup this weekend.

Star went down 75-73 to Killester in the All Ireland Superleague at MCB on Saturday night after they had a late Clement Kulinicz basket ruled out and now turn their attention to an away trip to Templeogue.

O'Neill was left deeply frustrated by the loss to the Dubliners, which saw Star only convert 50% of their free throws as well as just two baskets out of 16 from the three-point line. Both figures were a world away from their stats in the opening four league games, including the loss to Swords seven days earlier.

Yet. With four seconds on the clock they had the chance to go 75-74 ahead when Kulinicz bounced the ball before sinking a rebound. Victory seemed secured but instead the referee ruled it out and then a foul gave Killester the chance to extend their lead.

"The bottom line is that we were poor and it was an inexplicable performance. We have dust ourselves down and make sure we work hard and are ready to deliver a better performance against Templeogue in the Cup," said O'Neill.

"Even if Clement's basket had stood and we had got the win I would have looked upon it as stealing the points because we just weren't anywhere near our best. I didn't have a good look at the basket from Clement but certainly he and the other guys didn't think he had travelled.

"But that wasn't the reason we lost the game. When you look at our free throw stats, just converting 50% is not good enough and it's clear we need to work on our three point shooting this week in training."

American Ryan Oliver top scored for Star on 30 points with Conor Quinn on 17.

Star will welcome back Keelan Cairns this week for the clash with Templeogue.

In Division One, the Ulster Elks lost 94-83 away to Fr Mathews.

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