Belfast Star will hope to make it back-to-back victories over DBS Éanna on Saturday (Coláiste Éanna, 7pm) and overtake the Dublin outfit at the top of the InsureMyVan.ie Super League North Conference.
Star were 81-70 victors at La Salle last weekend to narrow the gap on the group leaders to just three points and should they repeat tomorrow, then they will go top.
That is easier said than done but Adrian Fulton's charges will take huge encouragement from their victory at the weekend, but go into tomorrow's game without Conor Quinn who was called into the Irish squad for this week’s FIBA EuroBasket 2025 Pre-Qualifiers.
“It's tough to play a team back-to-back, particularly when they are so talented,” said Fulton who will not be present due to his involvement with the Irish team this week.
“I'm sure Éanna will be ready for us. I think we are two well-matched teams and it should be another entertaining game.”
Éanna will be keen to make amends for their defeat in Belfast that saw their lead at the top of the Conference whittled down to leave just one win between the teams.
However, should they gain revenge, it will all but seal top spot with two games left to play.
“We had a tough game in Belfast last weekend,” admitted DBS Éanna head coach Darren McGovern who hopes lessons have been learned.
“We just didn't play well enough to win. I am demanding a reaction. The top spot in North is now wide open between us and Star. I do believe we will react in a positive way Saturday night. It's a make or miss game, if we can up our percentages and get a bit of the breaking ball, we can be on the right side of the result.”
Alongside Asst Irish Coach Adrian Fulton - that's Three 'Star' Performers! https://t.co/UzpgEk5j79— Belfast Star (@BelfastStar64) February 24, 2022
Quinn's absence will be felt for Star, but also a huge boost personally as he joined former Star team-mate Keelan Cairns who were drafted into the squad for Thursday's 83-72 defeat in Switzerland and Sunday's upcoming game against Cyprus at the National Basketball Arena in Dublin (5pm).
“I am certainly delighted to get the call up to the team,” said Quinn earlier this week.
“It’s always a pleasure to put on the green jersey, especially at senior level. I can’t wait to get to work with the lads.”
Cairns, now showing his talents with Ballincollig made his first international appearance on Thursday since 2019, when he featured in friendlies against Slovakia and Luxembourg. He also played in the 2016 and 2018 FIBA European Championship for Small Countries.
“I saw the work the lads did over the summer and the last international break, let's hope we can carry on from where they left off,” he said.
“A couple of years have passed since my last international appearance and I've gone from being the young guy to being the older guy, it's just bringing that experience and helping where I can. It's the highest point we've reached in a long time, so I'm just happy to be a part of that.”
Elsewhere this weekend, Ulster University's women will aim to maintain their fine form as North Conference leaders of Division One in the MissQuote.ie league when they travel to face LYIT Donegal on Saturday (4pm).