Killeen’s boys just miss European Finals

THE IRELAND Under 18 Men’s team gave a good account of itself at the FIBA 3x3 European Cup qualifiers in Riga when they made it as far as the quarter finals.

Coached by Templeogue Centre Jason Killeen, the squad, which also included Templeogue’s Kris Arcilla, shipped a two-point loss against their Latvian hosts in their opening match.

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Yet they bounced back strongly with a 17-15 victory over Belarus and a seven-point triumph over Russia to secure their place in the last eight.

There they faced off against Romania against whom they led 5-4 with four minutes remaining after which their opponents hit back to race 12-6 clear.

Ireland did manage to bring it back to two, but the clock was against them in their attempt to bridge the gap, leaving them with a game against Ukraine to salvage their hopes of qualification.

It was neck-and-neck in that match up until the closing three minutes when Ukraine opened up a six-point advantage and, while they fought valiantly, Ireland were unable to close the gap.

While acknowledging the quality of their opponents, Killeen remained very positive saying “We lost out to a very talented and physical Ukrainian side.

“We had lots of chances and played physically with lots of confidence. We unfortunately had a one-minute lull which allowed them to capitalise on our mistakes and put points on the board.

“The lads should be proud of their wins in this competition. Beating Belarus and Russia will be something we will always remember.

“This weekend is a reminder that Irish players can compete and beat the best teams in Europe. We need to encourage our young athletes to play more 3x3 through the year. This will give our teams much needed experience when they play European competition” he added.

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