There was heartbreak for the Ireland Senior Women’s 3x3 team this morning as they bowed out of the FIBA 3x3 Women’s World Series in Italy following a 13-14 overtime loss at the hands of Mongolia.
The game, which was a refixed match from Friday evening due to rain, was Ireland’s last pool game of the tournament and was a must-win clash for the women in green, having lost their opening two games against world champions Italy and Serbia on Friday evening. The game was also a must-win for third seed Mongolia, who had also lost both of their opening matches and, with just three teams advancing to the next round from the group of four, it was a winner takes all affair.
A close and tense game saw nothing between the sides throughout, and it was the women in green who kept their noses in front for the majority of the game, with all four players working well as a unit, hitting some impressive scores and rebounding well. Ireland looked comfortable with 1.21 to play, leading 12-8, but a big outside shot from Mongolia saw them back within two points with just 55 seconds to go. A nerve-wracking closing ensued, before Mongolia dealt another blow with 20 seconds to play, tying up proceedings at 12 points apiece with another long range two to send the game to overtime.
A reverse lay-up from Grainne Dwyer was the first score of overtime to push Ireland ahead by one, but Mongolia’s long range shooting ability was to be the story of the game as they hit 12 of their final tally of 14 points from outside the arc - the final two points coming in overtime to take the win 13-14 and end Ireland's journey in the competition.
Despite the three losses, overall, it was a strong showing from Ireland who were making their debut at this new FIBA competition, as they held world champions Italy at bay throughout their opening game on Friday, opening up a 6-0 lead early on and upsetting Italy’s rhythm throughout. The Italians showed some flair in the closing stages to take the win 9-13, but the performance was one that made everyone in Turin stand up and take notice of the Irish squad. Four points was also the margin between Ireland and Serbia in the second game, with the latter taking the win 13-17, using their size and height under the boards to take home victory.
Speaking after the tournament, head coach Matt Hall stated:
“It was a disappointing end to a very solid tournament from the team. We knew Mongolia were shooting well, but they really pulled it out in the closing minute and got that last big shot to win the game. Though we’re disappointed, there are a lot of positives to take from the weekend and to perform so well against some of the top seeds in the world, including world champions Italy, was a superb achievement."