Highlights: Turkey beat Latvia 78-53 at FIBA Europe U18s

Turkey locked up the fourth and final spot in today’s FIBA Europe Under 18s men’s semi finals with a convincing 78-53 win over Latvia. After a tight first quarter, the hosts pulled away in Konya. Furkan Korkmaz led Turkey in scoring with 22 points and 6 rebounds, as Turkey took a commanding 14 point lead into the final frame before closing the game out with a 19-8 fourth quarter.

In the classification games there was finally some good news for England who recorded their first win of the tournament, beating Poland 83-74. Aaron Menzies had 17 points and 15 boards while Jules Dang Akodo socred 18 points, had 8 assists, and 4 steals, as England kept their survival hopes alive. Poland are relegated to Division B as a result of this defeat while England must win one more game on Sunday, against either Czech Republic or Belgium to survive.

Finally, in Division B BiE’s home team Ireland lost their final game of the tournament 64-63 to Switzerland to finish in 22nd and last place. The semi-finals of the tournament take place later today in Sofia with Ukraine taking on Finland and Sweden playing Germany.


Serbia and Croatia make statements at FIBA U18s

It’s nearing the business end of the FIBA Europe U18 men’s championships and two teams stood out above all on Wednesday.

Serbia and Turkey were locked in a tight battle for most of their clash in Konya before the Serbs stepped up a gear in the second half to beat the hosts on a convincing 82-62 scoreline. That win secured top spot for Serbia in Group F, with Turkey having to settle for second. Spain and Greece booked their passages to the knockout stages with wins over Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro.

Croatia however remain the team to beat in these championships. Italy gave them a good test in the battle for top spot in Group E but, as has been the case throughout this tournament, they had to lean too much on the Mussidori. Federico Mussini and Diego Flaccadori accounted for 38 of Italy’s 65 points with no other Italian player breaking double digits. Croatia’s greater depth proved telling in the second half, as even on a quiet (by his standards) day for Dragan Bender they were able to score at will. Marco Arapovic had his third 20 point game of the tournament as Croatia eventually coasted to victory 81-65.
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Ireland announce select squad for Luxembourg friendlies

An Irish men’s league select side will take on the Luxembourg national team in three friendlies next week.

The games, which will take place from 4 to 6 August will be Luxembourg’s final preparation games before their EuroBasket qualifiers.

The Irish roster is as follows:
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Mykhailiuk operating almost under cover

Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk

It’s an accident of birth to some degree, actually several, Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk will be all over our screens when he suits up for Kansas but with no live feed from the FIBA U18 European championships B Division the Ukrainian is taking care of business in Sofia this week.

Niall McDermott of The Courtside Collective has been charting the Irish team’s progress at the tournament and they ran into Mykhailiuk and Ukraine on Sunday. In this guest post, McDermott explains why the guard is something of a mystery…
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Ireland end famines with two slices of Danish bacon

Normally we are really fair and balanced on this site. This has not been a normal day.

When I got up this morning, Ireland hadn’t won a competitive men’s Under 18 international since 2007 or a competitive women’s Under 18 game since 2008. In simple terms, it’s easy for me to be neutral because my nation hasn’t exactly been a powerhouse internationally since…well since the game was invented.

Arguably the best day in our less than fantastic history got under way at 10am CET today when the Under 18 men took the floor against Denmark in Sofia. Sean Flood scored 19 points and had 4 assists while Oisin Kerins grabbed 12 boards and scored 6 points as Ireland won the opening game of the FIBA Europe Division B champopnships 66-61.

The women’s Under 18 squad had already suffered four defeats in their Division B tournament before hitting the floor against Denmark at 19.15 CET in Timisoara, Romania. The game was evenly balanced going into the third quarter before the Irish blew it right open. With a 9 point lead going into the final frame, our account on Twitter was really looking the opposite of neutral.

Having fallen away against Ukraine on Wednesday night, Ireland didn’t let up against the Danes to take the win 63-50.


Your Irish national team primer

Earlier today BiE exclusively revealed that Ireland would return to international basketball in 2015 after a 5 year absence. Emmet Ryan takes a brief look at history of Ireland’s men in the international game.

Despite exactly zero appearances in EuroBasket or the FIBA World Cup, Ireland has made it to the Olympics in basketball. It was 1948, a rather different era in the sport, and the best way to describe Ireland’s performance is that they were really, really, out of our depth. Still, it remains the sole major finals Ireland has participated in and the 1948 team is still revered in Ireland.

For most of Ireland’s existence in the international game, pretty much nothing happened. Then the breakthrough finally came. In 1994 Ireland topped Cyprus 81-78 at the National Basketball Arena in Tallaght to take the Promotions Cup, moving the nation up to the B Division in EuroBasket. This was the start of the peak run for the national men’s team. In 2005 Denmark edged Ireland in a two-legged final qualifier to deny promotion to the top flight. At the time the star player for the men in green was Pat Burke. He was the human victory cigar for the Phoenix Suns but remains the lone Irish born player to suit up in the NBA.

The last competitive action for Ireland at international level came in the qualifiers for EuroBasket 2009, where a 2-6 finish left them well out of contention for the final stages. In 2010, Ireland formally exited the international field. Players still suited up for clubs overseas but the green jersey wasn’t an option. The first signs of a return came when a select team made up of Irish league players beat their BBL counterparts in 2013. Follow up fixtures against a Welsh select and the BBL again came this past season before the big news of today.

Finally, after 5 years in the wilderness, the road back has begun. Next up, getting the women’s senior team back on the block.


Ireland to return to international play in 2015

11890 Killester v Bord Gais Neptune - Nivea for Men Men's Superleague Final

BallinEurope can exclusively reveal that Basketball Ireland is to re-start its national teams in 2015 after a five year absence.

Speaking to BiE, Bernard O’Byrne, chief executive of Basketball Ireland, said the men’s senior team would return to international play next year with plans in place to re-start the women’s programme. The sport’s governing body was forced to disband the teams in 2010 due to financial concerns

“Withdrawing our international teams left us in a vacuum. Over the past two years we have been building that back up,” said O’Byrne. “In any sport, the thing that sells it is the green shirt, it’s playing for Ireland. With FIBA restructuring World Cup qualification, it will bring top class teams here to Ireland.”

The news comes on the back of Basketball Ireland winning the rights to host the general assembly of FIBA Europe, the sport’s equivalent of UEFA, in 2016. The event will be have 200 delegates from FIBA’s 51 members in Europe and the global body.

“It’s important that Basketball Ireland rebuilds credibility both nationally and internationally. We’ve made positive steps with the government here,” said O’Byrne. “The minister, Michael Ring, and Bord Failte were totally on board with the bid. I think it was really significant that we got the minister to attend the national finals this year.”

O’Byrne said the body would bid to host a European underage championship in either 2017 or 2018. “We are looking at either the under 16 or under 18 championships. We will decide which one to pitch for after discussing it with our coaches and technical people,” said O’Byrne. “We fortunate that we have some great talent coming through at present.”

Last year Basketball Ireland was fined €127,000 by the Sports Council for mis-use of a capital grant. The body was also barred from applying for capital grants for five years. O’Byrne said Basketball Ireland will now appeal the ban from applying for grants in order to carry out refurbishments to the National Basketball Arena in Tallaght, Dublin.

“We had to take that on the chin. We are revisiting the five year ban, we think that is quite excessive and harsh on an organisation with limited resources. We are 18 months into that ban now and we are getting ready to launch that appeal,” he said.

“I’m confident we can also receive some capital support from FIBA Europe. The new president, Turgay Demirel, has said that for the organisation to get stronger all of the federations have to grow. I believe we can go to him with a plan, a vision for our future.”

O’Byrne also said the national body is ahead of schedule in its repayments of a €1.4 million debt. The 7 year repayment process has been under way for 4 years and he said he was confident Basketball Ireland would complete payment ahead of time, freeing up €200,000 per year.


Ireland’s MVP, Under 23, and Coach of the year awards announced

The winners of the top individual prizes in Irish basketball have been announced, Emmet Ryan runs through the six big winners from the 2013/14 season.

Men's Premier League Player of the Year Michael Bonaparte (Killester) — at National Basketball Arena, Tallaght.
The men’s premier league MVP award went to Michael Bonaparte of league champions Killester. Bonaparte played a big role in Killester reeling in UCC Demons down the back-end of the season to take the title.
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Basketball Ireland wins inclusion award

BiE is on site in Milano but back at our base in Ireland, there was big news for Basketball Ireland. Emmet Ryan reports.

Basketball Ireland has received the CARA National Inclusion award for its work with people with physical disabilities. The governing body of basketball in Ireland won the National Governing Body award at the ceremony in Limerick. Louise O’Loughlin, senior competitions officer with Basketball Ireland accepted the award.

The CARA National Inclusion Awards recognise excellent practice by organisations and people who contribute to the inclusion of people with disabilities in Sport, Physical Activity, Physical Education, Fitness and Outdoor Activities. The inclusion awards initiative aims to heighten awareness of the inclusion of people with disabilities across all aspects of sport.


BiE’s official Irish awards ballot

BallinEurope editor Emmet Ryan is voting in this year’s Irish Premier League awards. Here’s who BiE is voting for and why.

Men’s MVP – Michael Bonaparte, Killester
This was absolute murder. Bonaparte had 23 ppg, 4th in the league, ranked 10th in rebounds and 9th in blocks for the league champions. Staring him down directly was Lehmon Colbert, the cup final MVP, 20 ppg, ranked 5th in boards and 8th in blocks for UCC Demons. Then there was the real wild-card, Michael Callaghan of Moycullen who led the league in scoring and rebounds. Callaghan was a nasty call as he had fantastic stats, 26 and 11, on the second-worst team in the league. In the end his team’s finishing position played a big role as while he carried the load for Moycullen he also benefitted by not having the same talent around him in terms of dominating the scorekeeper’s book. In the end it came down to literally one game to give Bonaparte the edge on Colbert, it really was that close, as the Killester man shot 64 per cent and scored 24 points in the match-up between the two that decided the league.

Men’s Young Player of the Year – Roy Downey, Bord Gais Neptune
This was a crowded field and Downey arguably stood out the least on initial inspection. He was overshadowed by some of his elders on the Neptune squad but still managed to contribute in multiple ways. Downey had 11 ppg and 3 apg for the season. They were hardly earth-shattering stats but it’s not a young man’s league and he did enough to be the best.

Men’s Coach of the Year – Jonathan Grenell, Killester
You take a middling side from 2012/13 and turn them into league champions in the most dramatic style possible? That really helps when it comes to style points. Still, Colin O’Reilly from Demons had a lot going for him as a candidate here. His side finished second in the league, beat Killester in the semis en route to winning the cup, and beat them again to win the Champions Trophy. The run of Killester to claw back Demons in the league is what eventually made me go with Grenell. Another tough call, I won’t be upset if I’m wrong.
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