Ireland: Fitzpatrick Delighted With Progress

By Rory Squires, PA International

Ireland coach Gerry Fitzpatrick will be looking for more of the same against Switzerland on Wednesday after his charges swept to a comprehensive 90-51 win at Malta in their opening European Championships qualifying game on Saturday.

Former West Texas A&M University student Chris Bracey top scored with 21 points in the Malta victory, and team-mates Jay Larranaga and Marty Conlon provided excellent support with 18 and 14 points respectively.

The visitors were 33 points up by the halfway stage, and the huge advantage allowed Fitzpatrick to use every available player - and try out a few new tactics - ahead of the clash with Switzerland back home in Dublin.

"We played hard and it was good that we had all-but secured the win by half-time because it meant we could play around with a few ideas," Fitzpatrick told PA International.

"The players are beginning to look like they have a good understanding - I can't see any real changes for the Switzerland game.

"People are getting accustomed to playing together for the first time, and the more familiar they are with each other, the better their execution on the court will be.

"It is great that a young guy like Bracey can come in and have a good game. As well as his scoring he produced some good passes and his positional play was excellent."

Ireland should be able to welcome back forward Jimmy Moran after Spanish side Telecom Canarias finally released the 25-year-old for the national team.

However, Fitzpatrick is determined to keep his players focused as the Swiss seek to bounce back following their 73-56 defeat at home to Slovakia on Saturday.

"I was a little surprised by the margin of the defeat against the Slovak Republic," said Fitzpatrick.

"It could work one of two ways. Either the Swiss could come out fighting, or they could be under more pressure, because I think that it would be very difficult to recover from having two defeats in the group.

"We are expecting another tough game."


16.09.2004 - By Rory Squires, PA International
13.09.2004 - By Rory Squires, PA International

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