PREVIEW: Ireland men face bronze medal battle with Gibraltar
July 01, 2018
The Ireland senior men's team are hoping that they will be walking out to a podium in San Marino on Sunday afternoon, as they prepare for a bronze metal battle with Gibraltar on the final day of the 2018 FIBA European Championship for Small Countries.
The boys in green are hoping that they can do enough to go one step further than 2016 and bring a medal back to the Emerald Isle after a rollercoaster of a journey.
The team began their campaign on Wednesday, losing out to group-toppers Malta in their opening game. They went on and took the must-win challenge of Andorra in their stride the next day, and came agonizingly close to upsetting tournament favourites, Norway, in the semi-final on Saturday afternoon.
Now, though, it is Gibraltar who awaits them in this bronze medal play-off and it's not set to be an easy task for the team. Gibraltar finished second to Norway in Group A, winning out an epic battle against Moldova in overtime, overcoming hosts San Marino, before losing out to Norway. Bowing out to Malta in the semi-final stages, they are now hoping to stop Ireland's quest for a medal, with tournament top scorer, Miguel Ortega Amusco (who currently averages 21.8 points per game) hoping to lead the charge.
Speaking ahead of the game, Ireland Senior Men’s assistant coach, Ioannis Liapakis, said: “We’ve watched our game against Norway as a team, and we’ve looked at Gibraltar’s against Malta. I feel that whichever team wants to win more, will win - there’s a lot of heart involved. From a tactical standpoint, I feel we are very strong in the last 10-15 minutes and that is where we can definitely cement our place as winners of the game."
Tip off for the game is at 1.30pm Irish time and will be streamed live on FIBA's YouTube channel.