Jul 10 2024

Kilbride relishing chance to do 'something special' in FIBA U20 Women's Youth EuroBasket last eight

Ireland U20 women's head coach Karl Kilbride wants his team to embrace the 'chance to do something special' as they enter the last eight of FIBA U20 Women's Youth EuroBasket. 

They will play Ukraine and Iceland in Group 'E' on Wednesday and Thursday, knowing a pair of wins will see them advance to the semi-finals. Ireland finished second in a tricky group including Slovakia, Switzerland and Czechia, picking up wins against the Slovaks and Swiss before a bug in the camp left them under-strength for the defeat against FIBA U19 World Cup quarter-finalists Czechia. 

"Our energy levels just weren't there," said Kilbride, who's charges had a day to rest up and recover on Tuesday. "We got the best version of them (Czechia) and they came out and showed why they finished 7th at the World Cup, 12 months ago. For us, hopefully it was a learning opportunity and everyone is recovered fully for Wednesday's game."

Ukraine finished top of Group 'B' with convincing victories against Iceland, Bulgaria and Austria to their name. Serefyma Tykha, Yvheniia Putra and  Khrystyna Kulesha are the trio to watch for the unbeaten side. Ireland's other opponents Iceland are no strangers to one another - the teams met just 10 days ago in the Nordic Championship, with Ireland coming out on top. 

"Nothing is going to be easy. Ukraine are really big and we played Iceland in the Nordic Championships already and we got out the right side of a tough game," Kilbride continued. "We know we have a really difficult task ahead of us, but we also know it's a great chance to do something special. Everybody might not be at 100%, but we are all very excited for what is to come." 

You can watch Ireland's opening game with Ukraine from 13:30 on Wednesday here