Star's hopes of play-off place finally snuffed out in Dublin
A flickering flame of hope for Belfast Star in their pursuit of final top six play-off spot in the All Ireland Superleague was snuffed out in a heartbreaking final 30 seconds on Saturday night.
Star had travelled to Dublin to face Superleague champions Templeogue as huge underdogs but at the break were leading by an incredible 13 points. At the final buzzer they had capitulated and went down 74-70.
In the opening half Star produced some of their best defensive basketball all season, holding the champions to just 30 points. It was game on as Aidan Quinn, who top scored with 25 points, showed the desire and clinical finishing to suggest he could drive his side to victory.
But, as with too many games this year, Star let it slip away and once more American DiAngelo Grier failed to deliver, only contributing 10 points - another woeful display that hurt the Star men.
But if that was a damning statistic, Star coach Darren O'Neill will be having nightmares about the 17 turnovers his side coughed up, gifting the Dubliners a series of points - including two three-point plays in the final moments.
"Sixth place has gone, we know that now and yet it could easily have been so different because in the first half we were excellent. To be honest, overall I couldn't really fault the attitude of the players - only at times when some guys were open they didn't execute when the game got a bit tighter," said O'Neill.
"The turnovers speak for themselves. We allowed Templeogue back into the game, you just cannot give away that many turnovers and get away with it at this level.
"It's a shame that sixth spot is now out of reach because we have shown that we have the potential to be in that group. I feel that we have progressed as a team this year and we just have to keep building and strengthening our mentality.
"We now have three games and if get two wins we'll get into double figures for victories."