Ireland 76-85 Slovakia

Ireland were defeated by Slovakia in their second encounter of the weekend at the National Basketball Arena as they continued their preparations for the FIBA European Championship for Small Countries, which start on 10 August.

It was a much slower start to the game for Ireland compared to on Saturday, when they were edged out by just a point.

Ireland missed their first three basket attempts, while Slovakia proved to be much more clinical, with nearly 60% accuracy on three-pointers in the opening quarter. It was a 0-9 run in the first three and a half minutes, before John Carroll opened the scoring for Ireland with a free throw. Ireland rotated 10 out of their 12 squad into play in the first quarter.

Slovakia's Vladimir Brodziansky proved instrumental again, as he pushed the score, and prevented Ireland from getting back into the game.

Ciaran Roe, who was introduced halfway through the first quarter, was a standout for Ireland, sparking a good defensive effort, with a steal, two assists, and by finding his team-mates in the open court.

Jason Killeen was also introduced late in the first quarter, having missed yesterday’s game. He made his presence felt inside, forcing Slovakia to make some changes to try to counteract him in the paint.

The slow start for Ireland, and four three-pointers for Slovakia were big factors in the scoreline at the end of the quarter, which stood at 22-13 to the visitors.

Aidan Quinn announced his presence immediately at the beginning of the second quarter with a big three, however Slovakia managed to push out their lead again to 15 points at one stage in the quarter.

Some back-to-back three-pointers for John Carroll steadied the ship for Ireland, and another three from Eoin Quigley, followed by a steal and a lay-up from CJ Fulton, brought the margin back down to just 10 points going into the second half.

Mario Ihring was a key player for Slovakia in the first half, notching six assists and two turnovers.

CJ Fulton led Ireland’s defensive effort in the first half with three steals, while John Carroll sailed out in front as Ireland’s top scorer with 17 points.

The second half started with Slovakia hitting two quick threes and pulling ahead after John Carroll had a steal and found CJ Fulton for the score.

Roe came in towards the end of the quarter and injected a big defensive presence, as did Adrian O’Sullivan, to cut it back to just a 13-point difference with three minutes to go in the quarter.

Killeen made a three-point play the hard way, and the defensive intensity told, with the score difference just eight points at the end of the quarter.

Ireland trailed by 20 points at one point in the third quarter, which was contrasted greatly by the two-point margin they pulled it back to at the beginning of the fourth.

It was Neil Randolph’s pair of threes at the beginning of the final quarter that narrowed the gap for Ireland, before Brodziansky steadied the ship once again for Slovakia, and that was ultimately a deciding force for them throughout the quarter.

Slovakia’s captain Simon Krajcovic also stood out with some impressive play,

Ireland made two runs during the final quarter, one led by Fulton and Carroll, who did a great job defensively forcing turnovers and finishing on the other end.

However, right down the stretch a couple of shots didn’t drop for Ireland, and that was the ultimate difference between the two sides.

Ireland: Ciaran Roe (5), Sean Flood, Aidan Quinn (2), CJ Fulton (7), Kyle Hosford (2) (C), Eoin Quigley (7), John Carroll (30), Neil Randolph (6), Adrian O’Sullivan (3), Jordan Blount (7), Jason Killeen (7), James Gormley (DNP).

Slovakia: Majej Majercak, Mario Ihring (12), Simon Krajcovic (12) (C), Michael Fusek (10), Robert Rozanek (3), Vladimir Brodziansky (23), Richard Koner (DNP), David Abrham (6), Jakub Mokran (3), Jakub Petras (2), Juraj Pallenik (10), Timotej Malovec (4).