History makers - Ireland U18W storm into semi-final
August 11, 2017
History makers – Ireland U18 Women storm into FIBA European Championships semi-final
FIBA U18 Women's European Championship quarter-final
August 11th, 2017
National Basketball Arena, Tallaght
THE CROWDS were on their feet at the National Basketball Arena in Tallaght this evening as a capacity crowd was on hand to witness history being made in Irish underage basketball.
The Ireland Under 18 women’s team are the first underage Irish basketball team in history to reach the semi-finals of a FIBA European Championships and did so in thrilling fashion with a 60-55 win over Israel. Next up for Tommy O’Mahony's charges is an equally challenging semi-final against Poland on Saturday evening at 6.15pm – which leaves no time to reflect on taking Irish basketball to new heights.
“We would have come into this tournament with aspirations of making the semis,” said the delighted Head Coach. “These girls have high expectations for themselves. It would be nice to celebrate a little but the fact is, we are straight into preparing for the next game. That’s the challenge and we are up for it.”
Both sides looked under pressure in the opening exchanges – Ireland from expectation and Israel from the hosts’ sheer intensity. Rachel Huijsdens broke the deadlock and Dayna Finn drained a three-pointer for Ireland to take the initiative in the second minute. There was both craft and graft in Ireland’s first quarter, with Claire Melia’s ability to improvise in distribution giving her side an edge to lead at the buzzer, 18-16.
It was clear that Israel were at another level to Ireland’s previous opposition. Four of their starters were up against Russian, Italian and Turkish opposition in last year’s Division A Championships and on a mission to regain promotion at the first time of asking. Israel’s penetration was starting to wear down the Irish rear guard and shooting opportunities started to open up with Nikol Mihailetz picking off six points and Hadar Hadad driving full court to put Ireland behind for the first time in the tournament. Israel held on to lead 33-31 at the turnaround.
Ireland found another gear in the third quarter. Rachel Huijsden’s reintroduction helped to make the ball stick on offence and Ireland exposed a weakness in the low post. Bronagh Cassidy’s 12-footer gave Ireland the lead 2 minutes in and Sorcha Tiernan capped a 12-0 run to put eight points between the sides. Israel’s shooting prowess kept them in touch and a pair of three-pointers left it 49-46 heading for the final quarter.
The fourth quarter began and Israel missed nine consecutive attempts before Shirelle Berman left it at 54-50 with 3:28 remaining. A massive three-pointer from Maeve Phelan had the crowd chanting Olé Olé Olé and they held on to win 60-55. While this side certainly aren’t finished yet, their place in history is assured.
RESULT – FIBA U18 Women’s European Championship Division B
Ireland 60-55 Israel
FIXTURE – FIBA U18 Women’s European Championship Division B
Ireland v Poland, 18.15pm, National Basketball Arena, Tallaght
Ireland U18 Women’s Squad: Margaret Byrne, *Dayna Finn (15), Annaliese Murphy, Sorcha Tiernan (7), *Rachel Huijsdens (11), Maeve Phelan (11), Ella McCloskey, *Louise Scannell (5), *Bronagh Power Cassidy (2), *Claire Melia (15), Maeve O’Seaghdha, Amy Murphy.
Israel U18 Women’s Squad: Offir Kesten Raz (2), Shir Tirosh (12), Dor Saar (11), Tamar Engel (3), May Malkin, Shely Sirkis, Reot Mesilaty (6), Shirelle Berman (8), Hadar Hadad (2), Anna Schepovalov, Nikol Mihailetz (6), Noa Sharvit (5).