Recap: Ireland U20m 47-93 Greece

Recap: Ireland U20m 47-93 Greece

  • Jul 15,2016
The Irish U-20 Men were granted a tough task in their first U-20 tournament match since 2008 in the European U-20 Championships Division B, opening against host nation and early tournament favourites Greece in Chalkida.

This talent of the Greek side that boasted five players from the Gold-winning U-18 team of last summer's FIBA U-18 European Championship was on display as the hosts cruised to a 46-point victory on the back of a dominant third quarter. It was a team performance by Greece, with five players in double digits lead by Antonios Koniaris with 13. Greece also combined for 26 assists and 40 rebounds as they forced the Irish into 20 turnovers.

The game wasn't always as noncompetitive as the final score suggests, with a nervy start by the Greeks producing poor 3-point shooting and weak interior defence that allowed for Ireland to snatch an early 9-6 lead, but from that point on Greece picked up the pace and capitalised on Irish mistakes with a balanced counter attack that racked up 11 assists to build a 14-point lead at the half. A brutal half of shooting for Ireland saw them go 1/11 from behind the arc as Greece began to pad their lead in the paint, counteracting their equally woeful 2/11 from 3 in the first half.

Things went from difficult to impossible for the Irish from the third period on, as the Greeks had clearly hit their stride and began getting to the basket at will, preventing Ireland from gaining any type of offensive stability and demonstrating their general superiority. By the time the third quarter had ended a 35-14 swing had put the Greeks up by 35.

The fourth quarter proved to be a formality as Greece continued to push their lead beyond 40 as they plumbed the depths of their bench, which accounted for 43 points.

While the defeat was a tough opener for Ireland, there is a certain solace to be taken in a close first half and the likeliness that this may be the best team in the tournament. Eight points apiece from Sean Flood, Jordan Blount and Eoghain Kiernan serve as green shoots as they move on to face Great Britain on Saturday.

Head Coach Darren O'Neil echoed the positives in the moments after the game.

“Immensely proud of the boys today, we played a fantastic basketball team. For twenty minutes of that game we looked like we were their equal. Their depth of talent at the end just hurt us, but you can't say anything but great things about the way we played. I'm delighted for the fellas and I'm delighted for everybody involved.”

S. Flood (8) J. Blount (8) E. Kiernan (8) C. Coombes (5) S. O'Hanlon (4) M. Neary (4) G. Barron (3) G. Brannelly (3) C. Gilligan (2) J. Tummon (2)

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