Marello’s back to boost Star Cup bid
Coach Adrian Fulton is relishing the prospect of having his strongest squad so far as Belfast Star prepare to host Eanna in the quarter-finals of the National Cup tomorrow night.
Fulton was delighted to see American Ben Marello back on the court in training this week and, having missed the defeat away to Neptune in the All Ireland Super League, he will line up alongside fellow countryman Delaney Blaylock for the first time.
In addition to his two Americans, Fulton will also see the return to action of Liam Pettigrew, while son CJ Fulton has recovered from a heavy cold.
The Star boss is expecting another tough battle with Eanna, having defeated them in a tight encounter in the Super League.
"It's going to be a very tough game because they're a quality side. The last time we played Ben had 29 and CJ had 27 so they're obviously going to be wary of the two of them," said Fulton.
"Ben has trained this week so to have him and Delaney on the court - though not at the same time - is a real shot in the arm.
"Ben has been brilliant for us all season and Delaney will be sharp after getting a game last weekend following his lay-off. We also have Liam Pettigrew back who we missed last week and it's good that CJ is feeling well again.
"We got to the semi-finals last year and I believe we're a better team this season because of the depth we have in the squad."
Star have never managed to get their hands on the Cup and Fulton is all too aware of how much it would mean to go all the way.
If they are to make it to the last four for a second successive season, Fulton insists that it will not be down to firepower alone but also their defensive attributes.
"We have worked hard being better in defence this year and there have been encouraging signs," added Fulton.
"Our new Swedish player David Jallow brings a lot of intensity to training and to the court in defence. He's going to contribute a lot for us this season.
"I like the way he is also very vocal on the court and we going to have to be very sound defensively to progress.
"It's a massive game for us, there's no getting away from it and I'm sure there it's going to be quite an atmosphere but the players have to play the game and not the occasion."