Ireland 58 Switzerland 86
Ireland opened their European campaign with a 86 - 58 defeat to Switzerland in the National Basketball Arena in Tallaght on Saturday, August 25.
Switzerland with Thabo Sefolosha in their ranks started the first quarter brightly with the Chicago Bulls star proving a particular thorn in Ireland’s side.
The Swiss raced into a 16-5 lead with Derek Stockalper’s three pointer the highlight of the early stages. It was harsh on Greg Gurr’s charges, who went close on a number of occasions but to no avail. Emmet Donnelly did mange to find the basket and a free throw from Jason Killeen gave the home side some hope.
However, the visitor’s continued to pile on the pressure with the Sefolosha brothers causing havoc with Kgomotso also getting in on the scoring act. Further baskets from Nicolas Porchet and Stockalper left Switzerland with a handsome 23-6 advantage at the end of the first quarter.
Emmanuel Schmitt’s side were in no mood to ease up and got the second quarter off to a flier with Valentin Wegmann netting an early basket. Again, a determined Ireland went close through Killeen and Conor Grace but the rim of the basket was to prevent Ireland on each occasion.
A gutsy display from 211cm Killeen was rewarded with a basket and Ireland cut the gap to 17 points. The comeback didn’t last long with the impressive Stockalper restoring the Swiss’ 19 point advantage. Hoops star Ian O’Boyle got his name on the scoresheet with a two pointer soon after to mark the most encouraging spell for Ireland in the game.
The lively home support were able to produce their loudest cheer of the night just seconds later when Issac Westbrooks struck a superb three pointer to maintain a lively spell for the ‘Boys in Green’. The sides traded points with Seflolosha’s basket being cancelled out by Killeen. Ireland’s desire to eat into their visitor’s lead gathered momentum when Conor Grace of the Marian club put three on the scoreboard.
A basket and a free throw from Thabo Sefolosha and Maxime Jaquier respectively kept a wide distance between the sides but this half certainly represented a more positive 10 minute for the Irish.
Trailing by 36-20 heading into the third quarter Ireland needed a bright start to the third but it was Switzerland with three pointers each from Kgomotso Sefolosha and Maxime that left Ireland’s hopes of a winning start hanging by a thread. The margin was increasing and by the time Bulls star Thabo was hanging out of the basket midway through the period Ireland were behind 51-25.
Ireland put the skids on Switzerland’s dominance with baskets from Donnelly, Colin O’Reilly and Killeen but a further three points from Kgomotso Sefolosha had the Swiss in complete control. (60-31) Liam Farrell kept his nerve in the closing moments with a basket but Ireland headed into the final quarter with it all to do.
Farrell, David Mitchell and a three pointer from O’Boyle gave Ireland a fine start to the fourth but Ireland were left with a mountain to climb. A further basket from Grace and a three from Paul Cummins gave Ireland a better look on the scoreboard. Oliver Vogt and three from Wegmann ensured it would be the visitor’s leaving with maximum points from the opening games.
O’Boyle and Cummins rallied late with three pointers each with Cummins producing another excellent moment with another three just seconds later. Ireland warranted a bigger return from their performances in the first and second quarter but it proved to be the Thabo Sefolosha show, with the Swiss winning out 86-58.