Luxembourg bounced back in style from their opening game loss to Ireland on Friday night, to win out by four points in an overtime thriller at the Mardyke Arena UCC, Cork this evening.
Nothing separated the teams from the very off, as Luxembourg had their homework well done on Ireland’s main threats ahead of this evening’s clash and used that knowledge well to limit Ireland’s opportunities.
Superb displays from Taiwo Badmus and Lorcan Murphy were the big talking points for the Irish once more, while Belfast Star’s Keelan Cairns stepped up to the mark in style with some big scores throughout the game – most importantly, a huge three-pointer to send the game to overtime.
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Indeed, it was a much tighter affair all round, with the sides neck-in-neck in the opening quarter, with Badmus once more the stand-out scorer for the Irish, bagging 10 of his side’s opening period points, while good scores from Aidan Quinn, Lorcan Murphy and Cairns saw Ireland ahead by the minimum, 25-24 at the end of the quarter.
The second quarter continued in the same vein, with Luxembourg matching the hosts score for score. Again, it was the athleticism of Lorcan Murphy and super work from Travis Black and Badmus that stood out for the Irish, to keep the scoring ticking over.
Luxembourg was up to the challenge though, and Oliver Vujakovic and Alex Laurent stepped up strong to edge them into a 51-53 point lead at half time.
Again, nothing separated the sides in the third quarter. Black, Murphy and Badmus continued to find the target and cause trouble for the Luxembourg defence, and Ireland trailed by just one point (70-71) going into the last.
The game remained in the balance throughout the fourth quarter, as neither team could get a cushion on the scoreboard. Paddy Lyons impressed stepping up with another big score when it was badly needed and with the clock ticking down, it was kicked out to Cairns on the wing, who hit a big three to tie the game at 91 points apiece and sent the game to overtime.
The visitors started off overtime the strongest, adding two baskets early to open up a gap on the scoring.
Scores from Black and Badmus brought Ireland back into it, but Luxembourg were determined not to leave Cork without a win, and powered on through to win out 93-97 in the end.
IRELAND: Adrian O’Sullivan, Aidan Quinn (6), Lorcan Murphy (20), Paddy Lyons (3), Travis Black (14), Ciaran Roe (c) (3), Matt Kelly, Taiwo Badmus (28), Jordan Blount (4), Keelan Cairns (15), Eoghain Kiernan, Paul Freeman.
- Digital desk