Recap: Ireland u20m 77-70 Slovak Republic
July 22, 2016
The Ireland U-20 Men pushed their win streak in the 2016 U-20 European Championships Group B to four as the pushed past the Slovak Republic 77-70 with eyes towards a coveted ninth place ranking and a match up with Russia Saturday.
The victory was far from certain, as Ireland saw a 19-point lead evaporate and were forced to dig deep to keep the scrappy Slovaks from snatching a win. Sean Flood lead the way for the Irish with 21 points, and was supported by Jordan Blount with 17 points and 12 rebounds, as the two standouts of the Irish team's success continued to establish the team's European competitiveness.
Ireland continued the momentum of their three game winning streak from opening tip off, attacking the rim and shooting and incredible 75% on two-point shots to race to a 29-10 lead by the end of the first, closing the quarter with 20-4 run. Jordan Blount lead one of the finest quarters Ireland have played this tournament with nine points, five rebounds and three assists.
The first half proved to be a tale of two quarters however, as Slovak Republic came back with a vengeance in the second quarter, scoring the first 12 points as the Irish shooting fell back to Earth , going scoreless for the opening four minutes. With 4:28 left in the period, the Slovaks had cut the lead to five. A 7-5 Irish run granted them a seven point lead going into the half, but the dominance of the first quarter and the opportunity from an early rout was long gone.
An 8-0 run by the Slovak Republic gave them their first lead of the match, putting them up 39-38. Ireland did just enough, scoring ten points in the final 2:25, to make it to the fourth quarter with 56-55 lead, but their shooting on the night had gone ice cold, with their inside shots falling to 55%, along with a brutal 2/16 from three ad 12/20 on free throws through the first three quarters.
The Irish men finally got it back together in the fourth quarter, kicking it off with a 10-4 run and forcing the Slovaks to take a timeout. The Slovak Republic fought back in a scrappy quarter, pushing the match to a tie as it entered the final two minutes. Charlie Coombes put the Irish in the lead with a driving layup with 1:21, followed by Blount scoring the next three points as the Slovaks were forced to send Ireland to the free throw line to seal the match. Flood stepped up and put the rest of the team's shooting woes to the side, hitting his final four free throws and shutting the door on another comeback.
With the tournament's quick turnaround allowing for little time to bask in the hard fought win, and a tough matchup with Russia tomorrow, Ireland move forward looking to push their win streak to five and end the tournament on a high note.
S. Flood (21) J. Blount (17) E. Kiernan (12) C. Coombes (11) J. Tummon (7) G. Brannelly (6) M. Neary (2) S. O'Hanlon (1)
Live Stats - http://www.fiba.com/en/Page/5f46e7a1-3173-4ce8-8e2e-8c48f401f181/30c70000-0000-3235-2020-204120202020