Portlaoise Panthers duo lead Ireland into Euro quarter-finals

Rory Delaney

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Rory Delaney

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rory@leinsterexpress.ie

Portlaoise Panthers duo lead Ireland into Euro quarter-finals

Portlaoise Panthers star Claire Melia.

The Irish womens U-18 basketball team are through to the quarter-finals of the FIBA U-18 Championships after they dismantled Great Britain last night, with Portlaoise Panthers duo Claire Melia and Maeve Phelan to the fore.

Ireland tore into Great Britain from the start, powering into a 19-6 lead by the end of the first quarter, and they never allowed their opponents back into it from there.

Melia, who is captain of the team, lead the field once more as she recorded her third double-double in four games, hitting 14 points and taking down an incredible 15 rebounds. She also chipped in with six assists in a dominant display.

Maeve Phelan also made a big impact from the bench for Ireland, scoring two points, getting three rounds and two more assists, but it was her intensity on defence, pressuring the GB guards, which really caught the eye.

Ireland now play the Ukraine tonight in the National Basketball Arena in Tallaght, with a 6.15pm tip off.

Elsewhere in local basketball news, another Portlaoise Panther is headed into European action this week, as Oisin Rice was confirmed as part of the Irish U-16 boys squad which flies out to Bulgaria for the FIBA U-16 championships. Ireland will take on Hungary, Slovak Republic, Norway, Czech Republic and Bosnia and Herzegovina in Group C.