RECAP: It's back-to-back wins for Ireland U16 Men
August 14, 2018
The Ireland U16 men overcame Portugal in nail biting finish with a 64-60 win in their final group game of the FIBA Under 16 Men’s European Championships. This win has placed Ireland in the 9th-16th place classification stages with their first game on Thursday against Denmark.
Building off their big win over group leaders Romania the night before, Ireland hit the court determined and ready for action. It was deja-vu as Ronan Collins was the first again to open up the scoring with a quick lay-up. Top performer Rapolas Buivydas followed suit adding scores of his own while Eli Lenihan’s defensive work made life difficult for Portugal. By the time of Conor Walsh added a big three-pointer, Ireland lead 24-15 at the end of the first quarter.
Ireland kept control of proceedings in the second, with Buivydas driving to the basket drawing fouls. Portugal found themselves on team fouls early in the quarter which suited Buivydas as he pushed Ireland’s lead out to six points. Ireland began to pull away in the final minutes as the deadly duo Buivydas and CJ Fulton kicked it into super drive doing great work on both sides of the court. Portugal were left wanting as they trailed the boys in green, 41-29.
Half time in Sarajevo and the Ireland U16 men lead Portugal 41-29. Keep it up lads! #FIBAU16Europe #COYBIG @IrishRail— Basketball Ireland (@BballIrl) August 14, 2018
BOXSCORE: https://t.co/o3TgpWx7MJ pic.twitter.com/PBqaD0SPhX
Undeterred by a 16-point deficit, Portugal came straight out the gate with the first scores of the third quarter, starting stronger and more aggressive than their first half performance. While Ireland took a moment to compose themselves, Portugal launched a major come back eating away at Ireland’s lead. As the time ticked away Ireland found themselves on team fouls which gave Portugal the opportunity to take their first lead of the game. Despite briefly giving up the lead Ireland managed to pull it back and finish the quarter ahead 50-47 with it all to play for in the fourth.
Portugal’s huge third quarter performance had taken its toll on their legs as Ronan Collins drew an early foul to go to the line. Eli Lenihan came up with a big steal and found Jack Doyle for a big three-pointer which gave Ireland a huge momentum boost in the fourth quarter. Scores began to filter in from Fulton and Lenihan giving Ireland a ten-point lead with less than six minutes to play. Portugal’s defensive rebounds and fast breaks saw them bridge the gap to just two-points with five seconds to play but with a final foul on Fulton sending him to the line, it was game over. Ireland ran out 64-60-point winners.
WINNER!! Ireland U16 men take a 64-60 win over Portugal in their final group game of the #FIBAU16Europe @IrishRail#COYBIG— Basketball Ireland (@BballIrl) August 14, 2018
BOXSCORE: https://t.co/J1CbqpEJ1a pic.twitter.com/BICFN34V7E
Head coach Mike Lynch reflected on the win, “We are delighted with the win, it was messy at times. We were thirteen points up at half time and the third quarter we went down. We had to make a couple of changes to bring the game back under control as we weren’t playing at our tempo or sticking to our system.
“Defensive belief is what we have in this team and we build everything around it. Every single person throws everything they have at any opposition and I think that’s what has brought us forward”
IRELAND: CJ Fulton (9), Conor McDonnell, Conor Walsh (6), Denzel Ebose, Eli Lenihan (14), Jack Doyle (3), Kelvin O’Donoghue, Liam Keating, Malik Thaim, Oscar O’Lideadha, Rapolas Buivydas (20), Ronan Collins (12)