PREVIEW: Ireland men and women face tough closing group games
June 28, 2018
PREVIEW: Ireland senior men face must-win clash against Andorra while the women’s team host Cyprus in final group game
The Ireland senior men’s and women’s basketball teams are both in action once more today, and all eyes will be firmly focused on San Marino at 2pm, when the men’s team faces Andorra in a must-win showdown at the 2018 FIBA European Championship for Small Countries.
The game will be a tough test for the boys in green as Andorra were silver medallists in this competition two years ago and will be hoping to go one better this time ‘round.
Both teams are looking to bounce back from opening round losses against Malta - Andorra losing out 96-64 on day one, while Ireland was defeated 76-65 on Wednesday afternoon. The two wins for Malta sees them top Group B, while today’s clash between Ireland and Andorra will determine who finishes in second place and go on to the semi-final stages.
Andorra is certainly up to the challenge, with some strong clinical shooters on the outside. Guillem Colom averaged 16.2 points per game for Andorra at the 2016 championships and he performed excellently against Malta on Tuesday, with some superb scores from beyond the arc, while Cinto Gabriel also put in a stellar performance against Malta, scoring 16 points and grabbing 8 rebounds, which is impressive considering the size of Malta’s big men.Looking ahead to the clash, Ireland’s head coach Pete Strickland said: “Andorra are good and they’re a different challenge to Malta. They’ll space five guys out and shoot it, which will be a challenge for our big guys who are used to meeting people in the paint. It’s a different defensive challenge but I think we’ll meet it.”
Back to Cork meanwhile, and Mark Scannell and the Ireland senior women’s team will compete in their last group game against Cyprus this evening at 6.15pm at the Mardyke Arena UCC. It’s been a tough journey for the team, who lost out to Norway and Luxembourg in their other two group games – with last night’s loss against Luxembourg putting them out of the running for a semi-final spot.Now, all sights are set firmly on Cyprus this evening, before the team will get a rest day tomorrow and classification games begin on Saturday.
“We’re very disappointed,” said head coach, Mark Scannell, after losing to Luxembourg on Wednesday evening. “We were beaten by the better team this evening. Now, we have to regroup. There are still three games to play and we have to go out there and do it now for everyone who’s put on a show here and supported us and try and play the best basketball that we can.”
Men's Gamezone: http://www.basketballireland.ie/news-detail/10041205/
Women's Gamezone: http://www.basketballireland.ie/news-detail/10041161/
Men's official event website: http://www.fiba.basketball/europe/smallcountries/2018
Women's official event website: http://www.fiba.basketball/europe/smallcountrieswomen/2018