FOLLOWING an 18-month absence, the National Leagues in basketball return this weekend with a full round of fixtures in both men's and women's Super League and Division One.

Belfast Star were crowned champions for the 2019/20 season, but have been forced to wait until now to begin the defence of the men's Super League title due to last season being cancelled because of the pandemic.

There have been changes in personnel for Star, with England's Jonny Foulds and American Max Cooper going the club, while Paul Dick has returned to Belfast following successful seasons with Tralee Warriors.

De La Salle's Sports Hall will once again be the home venue for Star who open their campaign with a home fixture against UCD Marian on Sunday afternoon (3pm) and while they will be keen to make a good start, point guard Conor Quinn insists the team isn’t feeling any extra pressure as defending champions. 

“It probably doesn’t add too much (pressure)," he said.

"We know we’ve got a target on our back and people will want to bring their A-game when they’re coming to play against us, but again we’re probably just more excited to get back on the floor competing again. 

"We’ve got a different team this year, it’s not the same team as the team that won, but we’re still very confident and looking forward to getting everything going."

In Division One, Ulster University are also back in action as they host Abbey Seals Dublin Lions on Saturday at 7.30pm.

This game will form part of a double-header as the Ulster University women's team also have a home opener when they take on Griffith College, Templeogue at 5pm in Division One of the league.