Recap: Ireland U20m 67-52 Kosovo

Recap: Ireland U20m 67-52 Kosovo

  • Jul 20,2016
Wednesday, July 20th
FIBA U20 European Championships

IRELAND secured a historic three wins in-a-row in Group C of the FIBA U20 European Championships today in Chalkida.
The fixture was the fifth and final game in the group stages and it now means Ireland will head for the classification stages on Friday with a day of rest tomorrow.
Kosovo produced a superb opening quarter, outscoring Darren O'Neill's side by three points, however excellent play from top scorer Sean Flood (21), Jordan Blount and Martin Neary saw the Irish narrowly trail at the end of the quarter (17-20).
Ireland rallied back in the second quarter outscoring their opponents by four points, with big plays once again from Flood and Eoghain Kiernan, while Blount continued to dominate the offensive and defensive boards, securing a whopping 17 rebounds to register another double-double.
Kosovo weren't done yet however and came back within one with five minutes to go in third (36-37), but good Stephen O'Hanlon and Joseph Tummon at the line gave Ireland a seven-point cushion.
An excellent drive to the basket by O'Hanlon increased Ireland's lead just before entering the final quarter, however defensively Ireland began to send Kosovo to the line and Blendi Kadusha kept his side in the running. Excellent defensive work by Flood and a superb spin-move assist by Blount saw Flood nail a three-pointer on the buzzer to enter the fourth quarter eight in front (49-41).

An unsportsmanlike foul by Musab Mala sent O'Hanlon to the line and the gap narrowed to nine. However a three-pointer from Zekiqi meant only two scores separated the sides and coach Darren O'Neill intelligently called a time-out to settle the troops.
A monster three by Flood with five minutes remaining on the clock forced coach Ilir Selmani to call his own time-out, and despite a shaky few minutes by the Irish, they were doing everything to hang on (53-44).
Another three from Flood on the baseline, a layup from O'Hanlon and a jumper from Neary signaled Ireland's intent as they cleverly began to run down the clock and and spread their offence.
The scenes at the final whistle were deservedly joyous as Ireland claimed their third win in five fixtures, setting up a classification game on Friday in a bid to progress even further in the Division B tournament.
Following the game, Ireland lay third in the table behind unbeaten hosts Greece and Great Britain, who are also on eight points.
Speaking after the game, Assistant coach Pete Madsen  said: "It was tough game against a very physical Kosovo side that we knew going into the game were very, very dangerous.
"Some of our guys looked a little bit tired I thought following the training camp, but we've played five amazing games and with every single game, we are getting better.
"Our expectations are growing now and the group is really coming together and we just have to drive on from here again."

IRELAND: S Flood (21), J Blount (14), S O'Hanlon (11), J Tummon (7), M Neary (5), E Kiernan (4), G Brannelly (3) and C Gilligan (2).
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