RECAP: Ireland U16 Men 54-49 Slovak Republic
August 11, 2017
FIBA U16 Men's European Championship Division B
Slovak Republic: 49
(August 11th, 2017)
by David Naughton
IRELAND U16 MEN’S team recorded a 54-49 point victory over the Slovak Republic in a very tense affair this afternoon. Both teams struggled to score at times, but Ireland prevailed with double-doubles from both Paul Kelly and Sanmi Fajana, who were on hugely impressive form at both ends of the court.
Ireland got off to a very quick start as Tiernan Howe scored within the first ten seconds of the game. Sanmi Fajana started the game well, coming off an impressive display the previous day against Hungary and picked up scores early on. Fajana used his size and strength to his advantage on the boards also to keep Ireland in touch throughout. Despite Ireland’s quick start, the Slovakian shooters did not let their lead stretch as they made some crucial scores. Towards the end of the first though, Paul Kelly stole the ball and knocked down a three to have Ireland lead Slovakia 22-20 at the first buzzer.
Ireland worked at a faster pace in the second quarter and were clinical on the fast breaks. Once again Paul Kelly shot a deep three and forced the Slovaks to call a timeout and regroup. The slick Slovakian shooters made sure Ireland did not build up too much of a lead though, and picked off a couple of steals and scores, but a late CJ Fulton three pointer gave Ireland a slim 35-33 lead at halftime.
Both teams made a very slow start to the second half as although there was good defence on display, they committed unnecessary turnovers. There were scoring chances galore but neither team showed consistency and it was late scores from the Slovaks and sloppy turnovers from Ireland that gave the Slovaks a 40-44 lead at the end of the third.
The fourth quarter started slower than the third and Ireland had made the only scores of the first five minutes until the Slovaks shot another three from their reliable scorer, Samuel Horvath. Paul Kelly made a layup with hard contact and Oisin Rice scored from a marvellous steal to give Ireland a four-point lead. Free throws from Paul Kelly at the end of the game ensured Ireland a 54-49 victory much to the delight of the large Irish support in attendance.
Speaking afterwards, Head Coach Pat Price said: “I’m delighted for the team. They felt that they left last night’s game behind them so the first battle we had today was a mental battle and they did well with that. Our defence kept us in it when our offence went slack and the score didn’t change all that much. There were huge contributions from our bench today and some players made some big plays down the stretch too.
“We’ve been taking it one game at a time, but we will need to go to school on Norway a bit tonight. Day three is always tough, you have tired legs out there. We’re taking nothing for granted out here. Norway are a big side and we will have to contend with that.”
Result – FIBA U16 Men’s European Championship Division B
Group Game 3
Ireland; Paul Kelly*(16), CJ Fulton(6), Nathan Moore, Andrew O’Connor, Cian Daly(3), David Lehane*(4), Daire Kennelly, Oisin Rice(5), Tiernan Howe*(6), Sanmi Fajana*(14), Daniel Arimoro*, Ronan Cregan
WATCH BACK: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQp89SdpHFs