Keenan hails the resolve of his Ireland team
HEAD Coach, Mark Keenan hailed the resolve of his Ireland men’s basketball team after they staved off a serious challenge from Cyprus to earn an 83-75 point overtime victory in their FIBA EuroBasket 2025 pre-qualification clash at the National Basketball Arena yesterday.
The hosts preserved their hopes of advancing to the next phase of qualification despite having shipped a late basket that saw Cyprus level the match at 64 points apiece and force extra time.
But, in what was only his second senior international, Roy Downey netted eight points, including two three-point jump shots, to see Ireland hold firm and power through for the win.
“The guys were fantastic” exclaimed Coach Keenan after the match.
“We did our best nearly to let it slip there in the third quarter, but look the guys never gave up. We got our rhythm going again, then a great start to overtime.
“The runs of the game were flipping. We got our good run, then they got theirs and lucky enough we held on at the end of regulation to get into overtime, and I’m just delighted with how we started overtime and took off.”
Tied at 15 points apiece at the close of the first quarter, the match swung the way of the homeside in the second as they opened up a 38-26 lead by the halftime interval.
That advantage was enlarged to 17 points after the break, but Cyprus were far from done and fought back superbly to overtake into a 57-50 advantage by the midway point in the final quarter.
Following an Irish timeout, Keenan’s side worked their way back thanks in no small part to timely three-pointers from John Carroll and Keelan Cairns.
But with just two seconds remaining Zayd Muosa produced a superb turn-around jump shot to restore parity and effectively push the game into overtime.
Ireland, nevertheless, held their nerve and with big scores from Jordan Blount, Sean Flood and Downey they secured their second win of the campaign.
It leaves them third in Group A with a 2-2 record and still very much in the reckoning to clinch further passage heading into their next games in June and July against Austria and Switzerland, who both boast 3-1 records.