THE Irish senior men’s basketball team continue their quest to qualify for FIBA EuroBasket 2025 with Pre-Qualifier games against Austria and Switzerland.
They will play Austria in an away fixture in Salzburg tomorrow evening, tip-off 7.20pm, and then play group leaders Switzerland at home in Dublin at the National Basketball Arena tip-off at 5.15pm. Cork player and Tradehouse Central Ballincollig’s point guard Adrian O’Sullivan is looking forward to the challenge ahead in both these games and feels with a little fine-tuning and been more competitive they can get the job done against two quality sides.
“This is the third window of our international series for the Pre-Qualifiers,” O'Sullivan said.
At the moment we have a 2-2 record having beaten Cyprus twice but losing out to both Austria and Switzerland.
“Austria is our next game before flying home to play Switzerland in the National Basketball Arena in Tallaght on Sunday.
"These are must-win games for us to give us our best chance at qualifying for the next round.
"The Switzerland game is set to be a great contest, as the game was up for grabs on their home floor coming down the stretch last February. We will be looking to more compete as a team this time around and with a little fine-tuning can see ourselves getting over the line against the big Swiss side.
“Representing Ireland is always something I take huge pride in and I have been very lucky to be in the setup since 2016. To be able to play with the best in our country is a great honour and something we as a group don't take lightly. I always look to bring something different to each international series where I can.
"Our group this summer is very talented and a lot of exciting athletes will be seen on July 3 in Dublin. I hope to help do what I can and bring out the best in both myself and my teammates in the green jersey, there simply is no greater feeling."
Another Cork player that will also be doing his best for the Irish cause is the C&S Neptune’s young star Cian Heaphy. This will be Heaphy's second window in these qualifiers, however, he will be a lot more prepared this time round.
He was only called into the squad as a late replacement in the last window and only had three training sessions with the team, but with a full training program behind him this time round he should be a valuable asset to team.
“It really opened my eyes to see how professional the players went about their business. They always stay late after practice to get more shots up and in their downtime made sure that they let their body recover.
"I can see the bigger picture now with the program. Although I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get to play much, I am a lot more comfortable with the players this time and getting to know their strengths and weaknesses so I will be more confident now to help the team in what the coaching staff what’s me to do.
"We are just after a very good training camp and we have a few new additions to the team which is really exciting. We know we are in for two very hard games this week, but we all have confidence in one another to give us every opportunity to be as competitive as we can be.
"My main focus this week is to try and get the two wins for the team to qualify for the Euro Basket 2025 and personally try to continue to learn and enjoy my European experience."
I’m sure the Basketball Area in Dublin will be rocking on Sunday evening to support the Boys in Green to get over the line against a very big Switzerland team.