Ireland mark return to European competition with silver medal

Mark Scannell’s side finished second behind Malta.

Image: Basketball Ireland/Twitter

IRELAND’S FIRST EUROPEAN campaign in seven years ended with a silver medal as they finished second at the FIBA European Basketball Championships For Small Countries.

Mark Scannell’s team came agonisingly short of defeating Malta in this afternoon’s final but a 67-59 loss meant they had to settle for silver at the end of an encouraging weekend.

Ireland had started brightly and forced Malta to come from behind but they showed all their quality to seal a third win in the last five tournaments.

“We had them at half time,” Scannell said. “We were doing all the things that we were really good at and we just came out flat for the second half.”

Five three-pointers in the first quarter alone had Ireland leading 39-29 at the break but Malta leveled the game within six minutes of the restart and they went on to complete the win and earn gold.

“It was a bit of a struggle trying to get that momentum going again in the final quarter,” Scannell continued.

“In fairness they never gave up but Malta’s professional players made some big shots when the game was on the line.”

“I’m very proud. It’s been some effort this week. We’ll learn a lot from it and Ireland will come back stronger.”

Meanwhile, the Ireland men’s team just missed out on bronze on their European return after a 60-53 defeat to San Marino.

Gavin Cooney
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