Recap: Ireland U20m 67-47 Albania
July 19, 2016
Tuesday, July 19
IRELAND 67, ALBANIA 47
FIBA U20 European Championship
IRELAND secured an impressive back-to-back victory in Group C at the FIBA U20 European Championships this afternoon in Chalkida in a result that could possibly see them finish in the top eight
Vice-captain Jordan Blount led Ireland's explosive charge sinking three three-pointers from beyond the arc in the opening exchanges at Melina Merkouri Hall, instigating Albania to call a time-out as they trailed by seven early on. EÃ³ghain Kiernan, who registered 10 points in the quarter, and Graham Brannelly also put in solid displays to give head coach Darren O'Neill's side a 23-6 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The aggression his players showed was courtesy of a confidence boost following their win over the Netherlands yesterday, and within six minutes Ireland had drawn eight fouls against an Albania side that managed to score just three scores in the opening quarter as Ireland's defence reigned supreme.
A superb drive and reverse lay-up by Stephen O'Hanlon upon the restart inspired his teammates despite a miniature surge from Albania courtesy of Celis Taflaj and Dod Lekndreaj. Darko Vujacic's side began to run the ball a lot more, forcing O'Neill to call a time-out as Albania had narrowed the gap to 10 points with just three minutes played.
Huge three-pointers from Brannelly and SeÃ¡n Flood settled Ireland again as they led 40-26 at the turnaround despite a huge second quarter from Albania.
The start of the third was a slow-burner, but top scorer Jordan Blount (18pts) led the way coming up with vital rebounds, steals and a dunk to boot to put 24 points between the sides entering the fourth quarter (56-32).
Diarmuid O'Shea and European Championship debutant Kyle Cunningham entered the fray in the fourth and helped put the shine on Ireland's second win of the tournament as they finished in front by 20 points (67-47).
Speaking following the game, coach O'Neill said: "We're very pleased with the display today, particularly in the first-half when we put a big gap between ourselves and Albania. "The second-half we did what we needed to do and we're just delighted with the win. Two wins now and if we can secure a third win tomorrow now we've a good chance of securing a 9-13 spot."
Up next is Kosovo tomorrow at 12.15pm Irish time in Ireland's fifth and final group game of the championship, before classification games commence on Friday.
IRELAND: J Blount (18), E Kiernan (14), S Flood (12), C Coombes (6), G Brannelly (4), S O'Hanlon (4), J Tummon (4) D O'Shea (3) G Barron (2).