Czech Republic 70
A second defeat for Ireland as they went down to the Czech Republic last night in the Euro Basket 2023 qualifiers at the National Basketball Arena on Sunday evening
Ireland did battle hard to the wire but in truth they lacked ideas offensively and struggled to match the physicality of the Czech Republic side who had lost their opening game in this group to Belarus.
In the opening five minutes Ireland were very much in the game as they showed great composure at both ends of the court Indeed midway through this period following a Claire Melia basket Ireland had reduced the deficit to 9-7.
Suddenly the visitors stepped up the pressure in defence and forced the Irish into unforced errors and turnovers that saw them take a 13 point lead into the second quarter.
On the resumption Ireland did increase the tempo but some of their I players consistently put the ball on the floor as the Czech Republic consistently punished them and in the 14th minute they increased their lead to 16 points.
The scoring averages in the opening five minutes of the second half were poor for a game at this level and with five minutes remaining Ireland had only accumulated 15 points as they trailed by 14.
Some of the rotations by the Irish coaching staff were strange with the UCC Glanmire ace Claire Melia starved of quality ball in the offence court.
In the closing minutes the Czech Republic inspired by Reta Brezinova and Peta Zaplatova finished the half well and after a scrappy 20 minutes they deservedly went in leading 37-21 at the break.
Another poor start by Ireland saw them getting exposed at the post and with extreme pressure put on Thornton at the point scores were hard to come by for the home side.
Credit to Ireland they refused to lie down and in the 25th minute following two monstrous Sorcha Tiernan three pointers the deficit was reduced to 13 points 46-33.
Aine O’Connor seemed to get a lot of court time in front of Grainne Dwyer which was strange given the experience the former has at this level.
The Irish kept battling but they looked to have a mountain to climb entering the final quarter when they trailed 54-38.
A reasonable start by Ireland was helped by a stunning Edel Thornton three pointer as the deficit was reduced to 14 points with six minutes remaining.
In the closing minutes Ireland continued to battle hard but they failed to break down the rigid Czech defence as coach James Weldon reflected on the game.
Weldon said: “This is a high level of basketball and the players are adjusting accordingly and we will regroup with some good challenge games lined up for the summer of 2022 as the players will improve the more they play at this level.”
Ireland: G Dwyer, E Thornton, C Melia, M Clarke, S Tiernan, A O’Connor, D Finn, H Thornton, S Kenny, R Huidskens, A Kelly, M Fitzpatrick.
Czech Republic: K Brabencova, R Brezinova, K Galockova, E Hamzova, A Hansova, P Holeinska, V Kadlecova, M Krejzova, P Malikova, J Posilova, V Sipova, J Reisenger, S Skenarova, N Stoupalova, V Vorackova, T Vyoralova, P Zaapalatova.