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Demons destiny written in star

The play-offs in the Nivea For Men's SuperLeague take centre stage this weekend with UCC Demons hosting Belfast Star, while DCU Saints welcome Bord Gáis Neptune to the capital's northside.

Semi-finalists 11890 Killester lie in wait for the winners of Demons and Star, while Southern Conference winners UL Eagles will take on either Saints or Neptune.


Nivea For Men's SuperLeague Quarter-Finals

UCC Demons v Belfast Star, Mardyke Arena, 3.15

A remarkable turnaround in fortunes saw Belfast Star secure the final play-off place on offer in the Northern Conference and a place in the quarter-finals.

National Cup champions UCD Marian were favourites to secure third place but the Students endured a mini collapse, suffering five defeats in their final six league games.

Star did fail to beat Bord Gáis Neptune and Ulster Elks on the final weekend of the regular season but UCD's defeat to 11890 Killester ensured Star's passage by virtue of their head to head this season.

It's an incredible achievement given Star's awful start to the season, where they lost their first four games as they awaited the arrival of American Clayton Longmire.

Longmire has been a revelation, topping the points average table with 28.27 points per game this season, but the Ulster side also boast Irish talent in the likes of Conor Johnston, Jo Burns and Stephen Dawson.

UCC Demons were expecting a transitional season on Leeside with the arrival of a new coach and a reliance on some of their younger recruits. However, their campaign could well be turning out to be an extremely fruitful one.

The Demons have earned some notable scalps in recent weeks including two wins over Southern Conference winners UL Eagles, which helped them secure second spot and home advantage in the quarter-finals ahead of fierce rivals Neptune.

Demons offered experienced Irish underage coach Paul Kelleher the chance to coach at the highest level of Irish basketball and early signs indicate the club are in very safe hands for the foreseeable future.

On top of signing a hugely consistent American in Marcus Van, averaging 22.94 points per game this season, the side also boast some of the finest Irish talent.

A case in point is 19-year-old Ciaran O'Sullivan, who has been in excellent form throughout his debut season and will be a worry for Star after his displays against them in the league this season.

DCU Saints v Bord Gáis Neptune, DCU, 3.30

DCU Saints' record in 2011 suggests they won't be out of place in the play-offs but will be hoping they don't suffer the same lapse as they did against Neptune in their final game of the regular season.

The Saints did beat Neptune 78-77 on that occasion but almost let a half-time lead of 20 points slip against Pat Price's side.

However, the Dubliners were already safe in the knowledge that second place was in the bag after a run in 2011 which saw them claim eight wins out of nine.

Pat Crean's emergence has filled a void left by the injured Mike Trimmer, while the experienced Emmet Donnelly continues to be inspirational for Vinny O'Keeffe's side.

Neptune are another side enjoying a positive run at the right time of the season with a number of key players enjoying their best form of the season.

An injury to Robinson Louisme earlier in the season saw former Killester star Michael Bonaparte called upon and the American has duly obliged with a points average of 27 per game this season.

The Cork giants have also seen Phil Taylor and Jermaine Kamara come to the fore in recent weeks with the former landing the league's Player of the Month award for February.

Neptune head coach Price is well aware what it takes to beat DCU with a Bonaparte inspired show ensuring a 99-89 win in December.