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Star are right back in the mix for a play-off place, insists coach O'Neill

By David Kelly

Belfast Star have placed themselves back in contention for a coveted end-of-season play-off spot, insists coach Darren O'Neill, after sealing back-to-back victories on Saturday night in the All-Ireland Superleague.

Star won on the road 74-60 against Maree after a second-half blitz, having been down a point at half-time with Conor Quinn top scoring on 16 points and twin brother Aidan hitting 14, while Frenchman Clement Kulinicz had 13.

Having hammered Maree earlier in the season, O'Neill was unhappy with a "sloppy" display in the first half but some sharp words at half-time clearly did the trick as Star came out with a greater intensity which took all the fight out of their opponents.

The victory moved Star up to sixth place in the Superleague and they now look ahead to a home game this Saturday night against DCU Saints, who they have already beaten this year in Dublin.

"We have given ourselves a great chance to push hard for the top four. That has been our goal all season and we have a good chance to strengthen that with a win this weekend before a two-week break over Christmas, which is probably coming at the right time for us," said O'Neill, who is eager to see new American DeAngelo Legrier hit top form.

"Those two weeks will give us the chance to work with DeAngelo.

"He's still finding his feet, he has never played basketball outside of the States and it takes time to get used to the league and the refereeing and of course he has to get real match fitness.

"He did a good job on the boards for us on Saturday night but we really haven't seen anywhere near the best of him.

"Even three good training sessions this week will help him get that little bit fitter."

As for his side's overall performance, O'Neill admitted that he expects more from his men.

"I felt that our intensity wasn't where it should have been and the guys realised that and went out and stepped it up in the third quarter," added O'Neill.

"We can't afford to start like that against DCU so hopefully that lesson has been learned."

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