Sizeable Tralee basketball task for Belfast Star
BELFAST Star will be hoping make it two wins on the bounce when they host Garvey's Tralee Warriors at Methodist College this evening with a 7pm tip-off.
Last week, Darren O'Neill's outfit arrested a five-game Super League losing streak with an 80-75 win on the road at Moycullen. They go into this game against a Tralee side who are in something of a slump, having lost their last three games including last weekend's 80-71 home reverse against Templeogue, but will be hoping to get back to winning ways in Belfast tonight.
Mark Bernsen's side would have been hoping to have a better record than 6-4 so far this term, but they certainly have the talent at their disposal and O'Neill expects his team have a huge task ahead of them.
"Tralee will be a big obstacle for us to be honest," he said.
"They have two outstanding 'Bosmans' in (Dusan) Bogdanovic and (Goran) Pantovic, then the Player of the Year last year in Trae Pemberton. Throw into the mix, Kieran Donaghy and they are very strong.
"Our issue is going to be size-wise, keeping them off the boards and then just trying to score, but it's at home though.
"We expect to win all of our home games, so we'll go in with that attitude and be positive."
A huge positive is that win on the road in Galway last week.
Aidan Quinn top-scored for the Belfast side with 20 points, Clement Kulinicz landed 18, while Garett Galvin and Keelan Cairns chipped in with 14 apiece to see their side improve to 4-5 for the season.
Star are just six points behind Tralee on the Super League table having played one game less going into tonight's game, so they will be hoping to make home advantage count against the star-studded Kerry outfit although they are minus the services of a key player which O'Neill believes leaves them at a disadvantage.
"Coming in off the back of a win last week means we are in good form," he added.
"We are still going to be without our American who is injured, Ryan Oliver which is a bit of a blow trying to replace him this week.
"If we had our American (Oliver) available, it would be a very evenly matched game.
"As it is, I would give them a slight favourites' tag, but we are at home.
"They have to come to us, have to make that long trip so we'll be at them early trying to disrupt them and get our game going."