France smash Poland's Cinderella dreams
BERLIN (Germany) - France lived up to their favorite status by ending the fairytale run of Poland with a dominant 95-54 victory to reach the Final of the FIBA EuroBasket 2022.
In front of a crowd of 11,563, the 2013 champions France took over in the second quarter and never let up defensively to snap Poland's improbable run after shocking Slovenia in the Quarter-Finals.
Turning Point: The 24 points scored in the first quarter were the fewest of any opening frame in this competition with France up by as many as seven points and 15-9 after 10 minutes. The first seven points of the second quarter put France up by 13 and Les Bleus delivered a 10-2 punch for a 16 point cushion at the break 34-18. France did not weaken their defensive power in the second half, with Poland not getting closer than 16 points the rest of the way.
TCL Player of the Game: Guerschon Yabusele was unstoppable for Poland as the French big man poured in 22 points to go along with 4 rebounds and 2 steals. The French defense stifled Poland star Mateusz Ponitka, who scored just 7 points on 3-of-10 shots and 4 turnovers.
Stats Don't Lie: The game was utter dominance for France, who held Poland to just 32 percent shooting and out-rebounded Poland 40-21. The second number probably would have been even bigger had France not shot the lights out, hitting 62 percent from the field including a blistering hot 15-of-26 (58 percent) from long range. Poland managed just 18 points in the first half becoming the first team to have scored fewer than 20 points in the first half of a EuroBasket Semi-Final since Hungary's 12 points in 1946 against Czechoslovakia.
Bottom Line: France moved within one step of claiming their second EuroBasket crown following 2013. They reached their third final after losing in 2011 and they also finished second in 1949. Their opponents on Sunday will be either hosts Germany or three-time champions Spain. Poland will be disappointed about falling in the Semi-Finals but they still have a podium spot up for grabs on Sunday against the loser between Germany and Spain. It would Poland's fourth third-place finish after 1939, 1965 and 1967.
They Said: "We built this win with our defense. We started aggressive and we never let up our pressure. The defensive pressure on the ball was the best we have done in this tournament. They couldn't handle the pressure … The most important thing was how we started the game: the will and determination, and that made the difference." - France coach Vincent Collet
"We came into the game and really respected the team that was in front of us. We just played our basketball and were really good on defense and really aggressive. We made everything hard for them. We played good offense, we shared the ball. We had 32 assists, which is really good for our game. We played together and stayed together until the end of the game. We were really focused on getting this win." - Guerschon Yabusele, France
"They dominated. They shared the ball, they played with great precision, shooing almost 60 percent from threes. The game didn't go well from the first moment. We couldn't hit open shots to stretch their game. But big congratulations to my team and our fans. We fought hard and we know that we are still in the tournament. A lot of teams are at home, so we are proud of where we are. And we want to come back with heads up for Sunday's game." - Poland coach Igor Milicic
"We tip our hats to France. They played a really good game tonight. They pressured us out of our system and really made it tough for us. But we still have our heads high. We still have a medal game on Sunday and we'll come back and play with pride and see if we can leave here with a medal." - A.J. Slaughter, Poland