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Vidal shines as Star victory lifts them to summit of Superleague

 

By David Kelly

Belfast Star are now riding high at the top of the All Ireland Superleague after a stunning 89-79 victory away to Tralee on Saturday night.

Star are a club transformed this season and with Templeogue losing their Dublin derby to DCU Saints, it means the Belfast side are out on their own at the summit for the first time in 20 years.

Spanish ace Sergio Vidal is proving to be a rough diamond for Star as he rose to the intimidating atmosphere of a packed arena and delivered a game high 25 points, while rebounding with a potent combination of spite and athleticism.

Vidal led by example against a very physical Tralee side with his passion and intelligent use of the ball, while also contributing more than ever on offence.

Mike Davis was once again to the fore as well as he delivered 23 points.

The American has proved to be a great acquisition for Star and in what was arguably the club's toughest test of the season so far he rose to the occasion.

Star head coach Adrian Fulton said: "Sergio seems to love the big occasion, he loves the cauldron-like atmosphere - he hit the first 10 of our 12 points and just wanted the ball every time to show what he could do.

"It was a terrific performance from Sergio and he has been a big plus for us but I also have to say that the guys coming off the bench like Conor Johnston, Matt Jackson and Paddy McGaharan made a great contribution."

Star were put under the cosh with two minutes remaining after American Davis fouled out with the Belfast side just three points ahead. Tralee turned up the heat but Star showed their character and teenager CJ Fulton produced a piece of magic when drawing in two defenders before delivering a wicked pass for Slovenian Mark Berlic to convert a crucial basket.

Fulton added: "We had to show resilience and that's exactly what the guys did.

"It would have been easy to panic but they didn't - but I also have to take into account that Tralee missed seven of eight free-throws down the stretch.

"CJ has been doing very well, he had another good game and stayed calm down the stretch. We didn't think he'd be playing nearly as much as he is.

"It's more out of necessity - Aidan Quinn is injured, Conor is basically playing with one hand and CJ has grasped his chance."

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