Impressive Ireland return to top level with an eight-point victory over Cyprus

The Ireland senior men’s team made a successful return to the top level of European basketball with an 81–73 victory over Cyprus in their FIBA ​​EuroBasket 2025 Pre Qualifier Round 1 game in Nicosia. Jordan Blount topped with 21 points, while John Carroll and Taiwo Badmus had 14 points each.

There was an impressive, controlled performance from T Mark Keenan, the lay-up of Bar Ioannis Giannaras after just three seconds, with Ireland taking the lead after that. There were no signs of nerves in the opening minute, with two three-point jump shots from Blount and Carroll setting up a 6-2 start. A couple of Brian Fitzpatrick free throws put Ireland up 18-10, with a little less than four minutes to go in the quarter. By the end of the quarter, Cyprus was able to reduce the balance to 20-17.

Mark Keenan’s side began the second quarter with a 10-point run, a Taiwo badass driving layup sandwiched between a three-point jump shot and a driving lay-up from Blount, making it 27-17.

A setback after a three-point jump shot by Sean Flood, playing with Cypriot club Omnia Nicosia, made it 30–19 at midway point in the quarter and Cyprus called an immediate timeout.

But points continued for Ireland, with a lay-up from Blount and Fitzpatrick, followed by another three-point jump shot from Flood with the shot clock ticking, extending their lead to 37–19, with a little over two and a half minutes. was more time. To start walking.

The pace was with Ireland – a fine steal at the halfway point by Taiwo Badmus, followed by a dunk, took the score to 41-22 with two minutes left. Lorcan Murphy got in on the act sometime later with a dunk of his own. Ireland led 44–31 at half-time, with Blount on 13 points, while Flood was on 7 and Carroll was on 6 from the break.

It was first blood for Ireland in third, with another badass dunk, to signal their intention. Cyprus brought it to within 10 after Sotirios Manolopoulos lay-up, 52-42, and Ireland called a timeout.

Another Blount passing some crisp, fast pace on the side was finished with a three-point jump shot and it was 63-46 with three and a half minutes remaining in the third.

The final points of the quarter came from the captain of Ireland, Kyle Hosford, his three-point jump shot saw Ireland go into the final quarter with a 66–50 lead.

Simon Michael’s three-point jump shot for Cyprus lasted more than seven minutes to make it a 10-point game again, 66-56. But a carol lay-up and two more badass dunks put Ireland ahead 72-58, with five and a half minutes to go.

Cyprus again brought within 10 points twice in the final minutes, but with half a minute of Ciaran crying and Carroll fed for the lay-up, their vocal celebration told its own story, with Ireland leading 81–69. Ireland knocked out Cyprus in the final seconds to win 81–73, keeping Cyprus at arms length.

Speaking afterward, head coach Keenan said: “We’ve put Cyprus on the backfoot for the whole game, so I’m absolutely happy with our people and our energy. We played a little short in size, but we prepared for that, So I am absolutely happy.

“I haven’t seen scoring spreads, but we had a good spread, when you start hitting a shot at the start of the game it opens up the lanes of the basket. So it’s a good job that we built them up early and It opened up the game for us to be able to attack the basket and make shots from outside.”

“We decided a lot about that game. Of course there were times we left the door open where we could have put it on the bed earlier, but look how we closed it in the end. If we did our free throws It could have given us extra rest, but I’m happy with everyone’s performance level, great contributions around the court and our first game at this level and what a way to kick it off.”

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