Ireland 80-63 Luxembourg
Ireland head into their opening European qualifier against Switzerland full of confidence after recording their second win in two days over Luxembourg at the National Basketball Arena in Tallaght.
Ireland followed on from their 84-58 success on Friday night but they had to produce a big comeback to ensure yet another wion.
Luxembourg were keen to bounce back from Friday’s defeat and made their intentions clear early on with a blistering start largely inspired by Pitt Koster.
The powerful number five’s tally of six points in the opening moments of the quarter played a huge part in the visitor’s racing into an 11 point lead.
Ireland’s top scorer in their previous encounter Mihajlo Pesic kept Ireland within touching distance with a brace in the opening ten minutes.
The forward continued his rich vein of form with a two pointer in the opening seconds of the second quarter before Luxembourg extended their lead with a two pointer from Peter Rajmiak and Sammy Picard’s second three pointer.
Colin O’Reilly’s first score of the evening and a couple of free throws gave Ireland some hope before Conor Grace gave Greg Gurr’s side a lifeline with an excellently executed three point effort.
Two converted free throws from Ian Boyle maintained the comeback and reduced the deficit to six points.
A Felix Hoffmann three pointer erased any hopes of a comfortable comeback which was followed up by a two pointer from captain Martin Rajmiak to swing the pendulum back in favour of Luxembourg.
The powerful number 14 added two further points to leave Luxembourg with a 10-point advantage at half time.
The opening moments of the third quarter saw Ireland produce a superb passage of play largely down to the dependable Pesic who racked up five points in quick succession to help reduce the margin to just three points.
Again, Fischer Mathias’ dogged side refused to panic and soon lengthened the gap due to a superb three pointer from Tom Schumacher.
Ireland continued to battle and an inspired score from vice captain Michael Bree had Ireland within just a score of restoring parity.
A controversial moment saw Ireland complete the comeback and race into a five point lead due to six free throws after a double technical foul.
Luxembourg through Schumacher got their fightback going but Bree’s three pointer gave Ireland a huge boost as the side soon raced into a 56-47 lead.
A two and three pointer in quick succession from Conor Grace extended Ireland’s to 14 points heading into the final quarter.
Ireland grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck in the final ten with the highlight of the opening stages a three pointer from Ian O’Boyle to leave the score at 68-51.
Another three from Liam Farrell followed Sammy Picard’s and Marco Leschek’s efforts before two Tom Schumacher three pointers had the visitor’s to within 13 points of the Irish.
Grace put the skids on their comeback with a crucial two points and the side ensured their second win in as many days with Emmet Donnelly getting on the scoresheet to make the final scoreline a healthy 80-63 in favour of Ireland.