Cyprus 73-81 Ireland

Ireland made a successful return to the top tier of European basketball, with a dominant 81-73 win over Cyprus in their FIBA EuroBasket 2025 pre-qualifier game in Nicosia.

Jordan Blount top-scored with 21 points, while John Carroll and Taiwo Badmus each had 14 points.

It was an impressive, controlled performance from Mark Keenan's side, and bar Ioannis Giannaras’ lay-up after just three seconds, Ireland led throughout.

There were no signs of nerves in the opening minute, two three-point jump shots from Blount and Carroll established an early 6-2 advantage.

A couple of Brian Fitzpatrick free throws had Ireland 18-10 up, with a little under four minutes to go in the quarter.

Cyprus managed to reduce the arrears to 20-17 by end of the quarter.

Keenan’s side started the second quarter with a 10-point run, a Taiwo Badmus driving lay-up was sandwiched between a three-point jump shot and a driving lay-up from Blount to make it 27-17.

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

But the points continued to flow for Ireland, lay-ups from Blount and Fitzpatrick, followed by another three-point jump shot from Flood with the shot clock ticking down extended their lead to 37-19, with a little over two and a half minutes to go.

The momentum was with Ireland. A nice steal on the halfway by Taiwo Badmus, followed by a dunk, brought the score to 41-22 with two minutes to go. Lorcan Murphy got in on the act with a dunk of his own not long afterwards.

Ireland led 44-31 at half-time, Blount had 13 points, while Flood was on seven and Carroll on six by the break.

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

Some crisp, swift passing on the edge was finished off with another Blount 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 Ireland captain Kyle Hosford. His three-point jump shot gave Ireland a 66-50 lead going into the final quarter.

Simon Michail’s three-point jump shot for Cyprus with a little over seven minutes to go made it a 10-point game again at 66-56. But a Carroll lay-up and a two more Badmus dunks had Ireland 72-58 up with five and a half minutes to go.

Cyprus again brought it within 10 points twice in the final minutes, but with a minute and a half to go Ciaran Roe burst in and fed Carroll for a lay-up.

Ireland rode out the final seconds, keeping Cyprus at arms length, and winning 81-73.