International

Jun 23 2024

Battling Ireland defeat Guatemala 64-60 in Los Angeles

Ireland edged Guatemala 64-60 in their opening game of the LA International Basketball Cup in Los Angeles in the early hours of Sunday morning, setting up a winner take all clash with hosts Armenia later tonight.

Captain Sean Flood and newly appointed vice-captain Taiwo Badmus combined for 30-points, while debutants Eamonn Joyce and Sean Jenkins had eight and four points respectively. Sam Alajiki’s presence on the boards also came to the fore. He finished with an impressive 13 rebounds, including seven on the offensive end.

Ireland began their first meeting against the Central American side the brighter as Badmus set the tone with a couple of early buckets. The energetic start continued when Carroll and Joyce opened their account on a 14-7 run that concluded with Sean Jenkins notching his first score as a senior international off a nice lob pass in transition from Flood.

Fresh off the back of a defeat against Armenia on Thursday night, it took a quarter for Guatemala to get a handle on the mismatches being created by Ireland offensively. Olaverr Ignacio led the comeback with two tough contested shots to start the second quarter to wrestle some momentum back for his side. He would end the game with 20-points.

It was Mark Keenan’s side who took a slender 35-30 advantage back to the locker room however, a pair of free-throws from Joyce brought his tally for the opening 20-minutes to five points.

The second-half was equally as chaotic. Guatemala were playing very physical defence and Ireland were not getting the requisite trips to the foul line despite making many tough contested buckets, much to the frustration of everyone along the Irish bench. It was during this stretch that Alajiki’s contribution proved pivotal, picking up four offensive rebounds in the space of 2:32 in the third.

The sides traded the lead at the onset of a fourth quarter which Ireland began 48-46 in front. Second chance shots from beyond the arc by Treacy and Flood kept Ireland’s cancelled out the contribution of the hot handed Donoval Avilla Jr.and that extra layer of experience in the Irish ranks would be telling at the close of play. 

Fittingly it was Badmus and Flood who rounded off the scoring in a scrappy performance in humid conditions in California.

“A win, is a win, is a win,” said head coach Mark Keenan in the aftermath. “It wasn’t pretty absolutely, pretty ugly at times but we ground it out and got the buckets and the stops at the end that we needed to win the game. There is a lot of work to be done. Obviously you have to take into account the travel to get here so I’m confident that we will be much better against Armenia tomorrow night. We will have to be,” he added. 

Next up is the aforementioned meeting with Armenia at the same venue from 01:00 Irish time on Monday morning.  


Quarter Scores:

Q1: 17-20, Q2: 13-15 Q3: 15-13, Q4: 14-17

Game Scores:

Q1: 17-20, Q2: 30-35, Q3: 46-48, Q4: 60-64

Ireland:

Adrian O’Sullivan (0), Sean Jenkins (4), Sean Flood (13), Conor Quinn (0), John Carroll (5), Rapolas Buivydas (0), James Gormley (2), Taiwo Badmus (17), Matt Treacy (8), Eamonn Joyce (9), Sam Alajiki (6)