Ireland Women’s 3×3 squad book spot in quarter-finals of FIBA Europe Cup qualifiers

The Ireland Senior Women’s 3×3 team have booked their spot in the quarter-finals of the FIBA Women’s 3×3 Europe Cup qualifiers following two close and competitive group gamesagainst Czech Republic and Poland in Poitiers, Franceyesterday.

The women in green finished in second place in Pool C after completing the group stages with a defeat to the Czech Republic and a win over Poland. With only the top two from each group going on to the quarter-finals, Ireland had to wait until 5pm yesterday evening to see the result of the Poland v Czech Republic game to determine their fate, but have now been confirmed as quarter-finalists for tomorrow’s action, where they will face an in-form Ukraine who topped Pool B today with wins over Austria and Belgium.

The opening game  saw the Irish team lose out 19-14 to the Czech Republic as, despite good scoring from Fiona O’Dwyer and Gráinne Dwyer, the Czech side were clinical on finishing and strong under the boards. Speaking afterwards, Ireland’s Niamh Dwyer admitted that, “crucial misses at crucial times, with lapses in defence cost us the game.”

It was a different story in their second game however as, in the heat of the afternoon sun, Ireland took the points from their must-win clash with Poland, running out 14-9 point winners in the end. Super scoring from Niamh Dwyer was one of the main talking points of the game, with brilliant blocks from Fiona O’Dwyer ensuring the Polish team could not penetrate the Irish defence. Although Poland came back to within one point midway through the game, sisters Niamh and Gráinne Dwyer stepped up to the challenge in style, to send Ireland into a 9-4 lead and two massive blocks by O’Dwyer under the basket kept Ireland’s lead intact, and saw them home to a 14-9 victory.

Speaking after the games, Coach Matt Hall stated: “Our goal was to get out of a very tough group today. We faced 2016 World Champions Czech Republic early on and then Poland so it was a difficult test. Poland went on to prove how good they are by beating the Czech Republic this evening. We felt that we could have played a lot better against Czech Republic, but we put in a great performance in the second game to qualify for the quarter finals.

“It gets no easier against Ukraine who have made at least the semi-final stages of the last five World events. We have two shots at qualification for the 3×3 Europe Cup in Amserdam, so I am sure the girls will come out all guns blazing tomorrow morning to try and create an upset – which they know they are well capable of.”

The squad will now face the Ukraine today in the quarter-finals at 12.20pm.

Meanwhile, the Irish Senior Men’s 3×3 team will also get their FIBA 3×3 Europe Cup qualifying campaign underway in Andorra today  as they go head-to-head with Ukraine and hosts, Andorra.