RECAP: Ireland U18 men finish 16th at European Championships
August 04, 2019
The Ireland Under 18 men finished in 16th place from 24 teams at the 2019 FIBA U18 Men’s European Championship Division B in Romania this morning, following a 91-66 point loss to Hungary in their final classification game.
The boys in green fought hard against a tough Hungary side, with Rapolas Buivydas finishing the game out with 19 points and eight rebounds, while Matt Harper had his shooting boots on once more, finishing out with 17 points for his side.
It wasn’t to be today for the lads though as despite a strong first half seeing them trail Hungary by just four at the break (44-40), a big run in the fourth quarter from the Hungarians saw them widen the margin quickly, with Tamas Otto Pallai superb from the three point line, and Gerzson Radics a big threat inside.
The opening quarter was neck-in-neck, with the lead changing on numerous occasions. Harper got the scoring underway with a big three-pointer. Hungary responded at the other end with a quick lay up, while a free throw from Sanmi Fajana was followed by a big three from Pallai to edge them into the lead by one. Hungary added another basket moments later, but Kelly was on hand to slot home two free throws to bring the game back to one point. Lehane edged Ireland into the lead with a great score, but free throws from Hungary saw the lead changing dance begin in earnest. Lehane was on hand once more to put Ireland back into the lead at the midway mark, and a huge three-pointer from Harper stretched the lead out by four. Pallai however replied in kind almost immediately, and another strong drive from Hungary’s Adam Krasovec put them up by one. Their lead wasn’t to last for long though as Paul Kelly hit a big three for Ireland. Krasovec was quick to respond again, driving through with a lay up while Buivydas was next to get in on the three-point scoring, as the lead continued to change hands as the quarter ticked down. Solid defense from Kelly, Nathan Moore and Daire Kennelly helped to keep the game neck-in-neck, but Hungary went on to finish the quarter strong, draining another three and adding more scores from the free throw line and, despite a Buivydas bucket, they held the lead 27-22 at the end of the first.
Buivydas was first off the mark in the second quarter, grabbing a big offensive rebound and slotting home in style. Big boards at the other end by Buivydas kept Ireland on the attack, and he continued to dominate inside claiming a number of rebounds early on. Hard work from Kelly, Tiernan Howe and James Connaire saw scores at a premium for Hungary as Ireland kept them off the scoreboard for almost three minutes, while a big three from Sanmi Fajana tied the game level at 27 apiece. Krasovec was again the go to man for Hungary as they finally managed to break down the Irish defense for a lay up and they added another score moments later to widen out the gap once more. Ireland continued to work hard though, with good boards from Connaire setting up Kennelly for a good finish. Two quick baskets from Hungary again stretched their lead out to six, before Pallai slotted home another three pointer to widen the margin out to nine with just over four minutes to play in the half. Free throws from Hungary widened the gap further, before Buivydas settled the Irish with a strong drive. Good work on the offensive boards from Kelly saw him finish well, but again, Hungary headed to the line at the other end and hit home both to lead 42-33. Ireland picked up the defensive intensity though and finished out the quarter strong, with Kelly and Harper free throws, along with a big three from Buivydas, seeing them trail by just four at the half, 44-40.
Ireland started the third well, with Fajana getting an early score to leave the game in the balance. One minute later though, Pallai again was on hand with a dagger three for Hungary. Good boards from Buivydas saw Fajana slot home another basket for Ireland but just as they closed the gap back, Pallai punished once more at the other end, this time with a nice jump shot. He followed this up with a big three pointer and despite free throws from Buivydas moments later, another big Pallai three sent Hungary into a nine-point lead to force an Irish time out. Hungary punished again from outside the arc after the time out. Good work from Leeroy Odiahi and Buivydas helped stem the tide momentarily, before Hungary dished up another quick basket to lead by eleven, and this widened out to 14 points when Benedek Kiss slotted home a three-pointer. Lehane responded in kind for Ireland after super work from Kelly. Two quick scores from Hungary was followed by a good score from Buivydas and despite the best efforts of the Irish, Hungary held the lead 73-57 going into the last.
Hungary were straight off the mark in the fourth, hitting two baskets in quick succession and that was the start of things to come, as Krasovec again drove inside to add their sixth point of the quarter, before the impressive Gerzson Radics dunked his way home to see Hungary lead 81-57. More scores rained in from Hungary as momentum stayed firmly in their favour before Harper finally got Ireland off the mark for the quarter at the midway point with a nice three-pointer. Another three from Harper, followed by a lay up and a free throw from the Dubliner were to be Ireland’s final scores of the quarter as Hungary pushed on hard down the stretch and won out 91-66 in the end.
Speaking afterwards, head coach Paul Kelleher stated: “That was a tough one, maybe a game too far with the energy levels after yesterday. This is a special group and they’ve given everything. They had a run in the middle of the fourth, we were right there. It was just one of those things. These boys have given everything and have had a tremendous year. A top 16 finish is great and hasn’t happened in a while... we’ll look back on this as a successful programme.”
IRELAND: Ronan Cregan, Matthew Harper (17), Nate Moore, Paul Kelly (10), CJ Fulton (inj.), Tiernan Howe, James Connaire, David Lehane (7), Daire Kennelly (2), Rapolas Buiyvdas (19), Sanmi Fajana (11), Leeroy Odiahi.
Sunday, August 4th
Ireland 66-91 Hungary