RECAP: Ireland U18 Men 58-69 Belgium
July 28, 2017
FIBA U18 Men's European Championship Division B
Group Game 1
Friday, July 28th, 2017
Sean Jenkins was the spark behind a fiery Irish performance at the FIBA U18 Men’s European Championship Division B this evening, as the boys in green were unlucky to lose out in the closing stages against Belgium, 69-58.
A whopping 20 points from the BFG Neptune player drove Ireland forward throughout, and with Cian Heaphy chipping in with 16 points, Ireland brought the game right down to the wire.
In a match where Ireland were classed as major underdogs, it looked like the game would live up to its initial billing, with Belgium cruising into a big lead early on; opening up a 17-1 point gap. A full court press put Ireland under pressure as they struggled to find their feet in the game, and they trailed Belgium 24-9 at the end of the first.
A big second quarter from the Irish though, saw momentum swing in their favour as Jenkins added yet more scores to his six-point tally, while Oisin O’Reilly, Donal Ring and Heaphy all bagged baskets to outscore Belgium by 11 points overall and close the gap to just four points (34-30) at half time.
A shaken Belgium took a while to get back into their rhythm in the third, as Heaphy, Jenkins and Patrick Lanipekun began to run hard at them, with three huge scores from Heaphy in quick succession closing the gap back to just two points. A strong finish from Belgium’s Noel Coleman and Giuliano Neri though, saw them end the quarter in a more controlled fashion to lead the Irish 54-42 going into the last.
Eoin McCann, Jenkins and Heaphy continued to keep the scoring ticking over for the Irish in the fourth, but Belgium just had that bit more energy left in the tank as, after a high-intensity three quarters, fatigue began to show. Ireland were then dealt a blow when Heaphy had to leave the court due to injury, and Belgium were on hand to finish hard, running out 69-58 point winners in the end.
“We’re happy overall with the performance,” said Head Coach, Conor James. “Our first quarter let us down though. I’m not sure what happened out there - I don’t think it was nerves. Belgium just came out and hit three or four threes, we were scrambling on defence and they were just knocking them down. We gave up 32 offensive rebounds in the game – they killed us on second chance opportunities, it was tough out there for the lads. We had the performance for three quarters, but the 10 minutes that we didn’t have it – it really cost us. That’s the story of the game.
"We’re optimistic though as, in our heads, Belgium would have been one of the better teams in the group, so we’re optimistic going forward as we ran them so close. Cian [Heaphy] coming off the court with an injury is a worry, but we won’t know anything more on that until tomorrow. He was huge for us this evening, so now we just have to wait and see for tomorrow and evaluate it from there."
Ireland U18 men continue their European Championships campaign tomorrow (Saturday) when they face Switzerland in the second game at 4.15pm Irish time.
IRELAND: Sean Daly, Cian Heaphy (16), Sam Walsh, Oisin O’Reilly (2), Patrick Lanipuken (8), Sean Jenkins (20), James Lyons, Eoin McCann (4), Liam Chandler (3), Donal Ring (5), Mark Gilleran.
WATCH BACK: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wF5oj1QA804