CORK’S Jordan Blount had an unstoppable first quarter yesterday for Ireland as he sank 15 points to lay the foundation for the men’s basketball team’s victory over Andorra.
Blount finished the game with 17 points while another Leesider Adrian O’Sullivan, who had shot 15 points in the side’s loss to Malta earlier this week, also helped the Irish reach the semi-final of the FIBA Men’s European Championship for Small Countries.
Blount plays Division 1 basketball in Chicago and at 21 has a bright future in the game. O’Sullivan, a Ballincollig native, has played for UCC Demons in recent years but is heading to Reading Rockets next season.
Ireland pipped Andorra to that place as they ran out 63-56 point winners in their final FIBA group clash in San Marino.
It wasn’t an easy victory for the Irish, despite leading 34-16 at half-time, as a late, late comeback from Andorra brought the gap back to two points with just over a minute to go. Ireland pulled through thanks to captain Ciaran Roe, who performed excellently in the dying stages to see them into tomorrow’s semi-final.
Big performances from Jordan Blount, Taiwo Badmus and Lorcan Murphy were the highlights for the Irish, with Blount having a 15-point first quarter. Badmus, Murphy and Travis Black chipped in with big scores throughout and Ireland led 52-34, going into the last.
In the fourth quarter though, big scores from Andorra’s their talisman Guillem Colom closed the gap.
In an intense, final two minutes Roe added two vital points from the free throw line followed by a clutch drive to the basket to secure the victory.
Speaking afterwards, head coach Pete Strickland praised his captain, Roe: “Today we lost a bit of momentum but our captain came through.
“That’s what captains are meant to be and meant to do, and Ciaran Roe was just dynamite down the stretch.”
IRELAND: Adrian O’Sullivan, Aidan Quinn, Lorcan Murphy (9), Patrick Lyons, Travis Black (6), Jordan Blount (17), Ciaran Roe (11), Matthew Kelly, Taiwo Badmus (18), Keelan Cairns, Eoghain Kiernan, Paul Freeman (2).