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Piao Zeroni beat Angola 83:64 with confidence in the opening qualifiers, but everyone knew it was just a first step, but a necessary one so that the job was not over at the beginning.
The favorites in the three-team B group from the start were the Slovenes, who presented themselves more effectively than the Eagles in a correspondence duel. The team from the Adriatic, whose leader is one of the stars of the NBA, Luka Doncic, crushed the opponent from Africa by 118:68.
It was a clear signal to our team that Thursday’s match against the players of coach Aleksandar Sikulic will be very difficult.
Our team started the match with the same five in the first game, in order: Alexander Balcirowski, Mishaw Sokolovsky, Aaron Seal, AJ Slaughter and Mateusz Ponetka.
The first confrontation between Ponitka and Donczic ended in favor of Pole, who started the meeting with a punch, with an accurate three-point throw. The Poles entered the match very well and after a minute and a half they were leading 7: 2, playing the ball well and being alert under the opponent’s basket.
The second attempt at a three-eyes throw, this time by A.J. Slaughter, was also successful, but after a moment Donkcic hit back. The Slovenes began to speed up their pace, but Palcirowski showed another “three” (13:9). After a while our team had a counter, Sokołowski was already hanging on the edge, but he made a mistake and did not manage to put the ball in the basket. After a while, Poneka scored the first brilliant point in this match (15:10).
Unfortunately, the Slovenes started to shine with their perimeter throws and in a short time took the lead with a hat-trick (15:16), but Piao Zirouni also managed to strike back. After a while, an excellent showdown, after Ciel’s steal, was completed by Slaughter (21:18), and Donczić was forced to make an attacking foul.
The intensity in the game was very important, so Mike Taylor quickly began to make changes, giving the players a rest in the starting lineup. The Poles were still right for three points (Colegg was a hit), while the Slovenes responded with a fine performance, which was finished by Mike Toby. In the end, the score slipped away a bit for our team, Michał Michalak fouled from distance, and Jarosaw Zyskowski was blocked under the basket. The first quarter ended, after Lukasz Kozarek’s pass, by Damien Colleg with an accurate throw from under the basket, but the Slovenes were ahead (26:29).
At the start of the second quarter, the Slovenes built a more impressive lead (26:34), which fell a bit after a Punica error, but the Poles started to run away dangerously. With a score of 29:37, Coach Taylor took the time to respond in time. After all, in less than two minutes our players scored only three “eyes” and lost eight. Immediately after the break, Koszarek flashed a “three”, but after Hrycaniuk’s mistakes and accurate personal throws, the opponents kept a safe distance.
Unfortunately, our players started to make mistakes, did not use their throws, and also after Hrykanijuk intercepted, the Slovenes did not lose their effectiveness. When Alexei Nikolic showed another “three” in this match and the opponents were already 11 points ahead (34:45), coach Taylor reacted very quickly and motivated the team with a more decisive tone.
By the decision of the coach, Jakub Garbacz entered the field and flashed a peripheral throw, although he did not have the easiest position. Unfortunately, the Poles resorted more and more to fouls, being hit with four fouls in the middle of the second quarter with one Slovenian. The problems were getting worse, our players couldn’t handle the aggressive defense, and the opponents scored bigger and bigger (37:52). However, when Seal (40:52) gave an effective throw for “three”, coach Sekulić asked for a break.
“Biało-Czerwonych” could still make effective play, as when Slaughter managed to cover the matter and hand it to Balcerowski, who moved to the basket and effectively hung over the edge. However, this was a poor consolation, as the class difference became more and more apparent. And when Doncic displayed from a long distance, the Slovenes took a 20-point lead (43:63), which was down by three points after Slaughter was injured. In the break the Poles were losing 46:63 and it was hard to predict that with such confidence playing with opponents there would be an amazing turnaround in movement after the break.
During the break, the diagnosis was made: first of all, the game must be improved against the attack of the Slovenes, with which our defense was not quite up to date. However, recognition is one thing, and the most important question is how to do it. The third installment started with an impressive charge from Balcerowski, but the next two Eagles throws were already missing. The Slovenes seemed to relax a bit, because they also noticed errors from easy situations, and only Donczić came close.
The coaches did not react to the changes, although at this point in the match important players from both teams, such as Balcerowski, Sokołowski and Donczić, had three fouls at their expense. Inaccurate throws and missed choices of our players caught our eye, but it did show the “hat” Balcerowski, who stopped the leading NBA basketball player under the basket, was great.
However, when the opponent’s lead increased to 21 points (49:70), Coach Taylor again asked for a break and indicated the players, which must be urgently improved. It was necessary in our team to find shooters as quickly as possible, hence the entry of Michalak. The best response to this need was a seroevsky throw from the ocean. Our broker from the ready position did not even add to the basket.
The Slovenes’ performance from distance was consistently impressive and they didn’t need much freedom to show off their throws. As a result, after 27 minutes our team was losing 55:80. We missed the end more and more, and on the other side, one pass from the Slovenes opened the way for them to the basket. None of what Taylor talked about during the hiatus, unfortunately, can’t be put into action. Although in the third quarter Orłów did not lose as much as the loss of the second quarter, he was concerned that our players managed to score only 14 “points” (against 20 competitors).
The Poles had no patent to prevent opponents who still scolded us with long-range shots. After two successful attempts (60:89), Coach Taylor called his players, still looking for a way to influence their actions. Although it is statistically ironic that it was not only the “three” that was the greatest curse for the Poles, but also two-point throws. In this area, Taylor’s fee was just as weak
The 100-point magic barrier for the Slovenes was broken five minutes before the end of the match when Gregor Hrovat was on the free-throw line. The class of opponents manifested itself the moment Jacob Chepasek came off the bench and scored three points on his account the first time. In the end, the competitors scored an even more exciting win and confirmed that they are top candidates in the battle for promotion to the Olympics.
Poland – Slovenia 77: 112 (26:29, 20:34, 14:20, 17:29)