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Youths set for States

The Under-18 men and U16 women's development squads are heading to foreign climes to play friendly games against Scotland and Spain respectively.

The Under-18 men will travel to Scotland this weekend to play friendly games in order to prepare for their US trip.

Head coach of the boys U18s, Francis O'Sullivan, realises the importance of this trip which gives players a chance to experience European opposition.

"These games will be fabulous for players who are younger on the squad," he said. "A majority of this weekend's line-up are under 17 years of age so this gives them an opportunity to represent their country. All the players have been progressing nicely this year as it has been a continuation from our previous season. Going to Scotland will provide an opportunity to play competitive national games which I consider to be very worthwhile."

On July 1, the Under-18 squad will join the Under-18 girls and travel to the States to compete in the popular summer AAU Tournament for two weeks.

O'Sullivan hopes to retain focus on individual improvement and adjustment to the different style of basketball in the States. The itinerary during their trip will involve an intense team camp before entering the AAU tournament.

"We need to be very focused on the boys improving individually so by the time we get to the tournament we will have adjusted to the strength and speed of our American opponents," said O'Sullivan.

"A big difference will be the absence of the shot clock (24 second countdown during possession) so this will really challenge the boys to concentrate on defence for a much longer period of time."

Ireland's first U16 girls' development squad will journey to Barcelona this weekend for a three-day tournament against various Spanish club oppositions.

Head coach Dave Baker was appointed to lead both the inaugural development squad and the European Championship team. He is delighted that the creation of the development squad will be giving European playing opportunities for more players.

"In previous years, you had to be selected as one of the 12 players to compete for your country and go to the European Championships. From this, a lot of players could be passed over and become disengaged with the international programme," stated Baker.

"This squad gives the player time to grow and experience what it is like to represent Ireland in competition.

"Hopefully this trip will give the girls a great experience and they will want to continue to play the game, work hard and represent Ireland in the next European Championship."

Baker believes this trip will benefit both the team and the coaching staff in years to come.

"The players will have gained valuable knowledge and skills which will enable the coaches to produce successful seasons,"he added.

Follow the progress of the development squads team at www.basketballireland.ie/international.