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September 2022
9 Mateusz Ponitka (POL)
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Team Profile: Unpredictable Poland presented with an opportunity

WARSAW (Poland) - A new coach, a failed FIBA Basketball World Cup qualification and the return of experienced players - all these factors make Poland nearly impossible to predict ahead of FIBA EuroBasket 2022.

Everything starts with the new coach. The impressive but still young coaching career of 46-year-old Igor Milicic has come as no surprise to anyone in Poland. He was known as a smart player and it was obvious that he wanted to coach. In recent years he has changed coaching trends in Poland, bringing in innovative ideas, creatively using modern offenses and mixed styles on defense, which often confused opposing coaches and players.

Igor Milicic took the reins of Poland last year, after winning three Polish league titles in the space of four years

So it came as no surprise that in the summer of 2021, after an unsuccessful FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Kaunas, the Polish Basketball Federation decided to replace American coach Mike Taylor after eight years at the helm and turned to the most successful coach within Poland.

Milicic’s revamped and rejuvenated national team could not reach the Second Round of FIBA Basketball World Cup European Qualifiers, but the EuroBasket presents an opportunity for the ambitious coach to get back on track.

Poland only recorded two wins during the First Round of  the World Cup Qualifiers as their hopes ended with a heartbreaking loss to Germany, despite a 30-point effort from A.J. Slaughter. Just three years on from their impressive exploits in China, at the 2019 World Cup, Poland's absence will be felt at next year’s major tournament.

One of the most important factors at the EuroBasket, however, will be the return of both of their brightest stars, who didn’t play in the November and February windows, Mateusz Ponitka and Slaughter. Ponitka is the leader and showed his quality immediately after coming back to the team in June. He feels great as a player with responsibility and the team believes in him. He will be key on defense and for his playmaking, while Slaughter brings self-confidence to the team in the most important moments, as per coach Milicic.

Additionally, two talented but still somewhat unproven players in the national team – Aleksander Dziewa and Michal Michalak – will make their return to international duty following injuries. A lot of mystery and excitement surrounds the new Polish player in the NBA – 19-year-old Jeremy Sochan - who was the 9th overall pick in the NBA Draft this summer and is set to be a big part of all future plans.

”My goal for EuroBasket 2022 is to be the dark horse of the tournament and make everyone believe that we can be a surprise team,” declared Milicic. “All the players know what to do and I hope that tactical cohesion and hard-nosed defense will be our identity at the tournament.”

Poland enter with the mentality of underdogs and that may be the best way they can make some noise this time.


2021 Olympics    Tokyo (JPN) Did not qualify
2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup Beijing (CHN) 8th
2017 FIBA EuroBasket  Istanbul (TUR) 18th
2016 Olympics   Rio de Janeiro (BRA)  Did not qualify
2015 FIBA EuroBasket  Lille (FRA) 11th
2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup    Madrid (ESP) Did not qualify
2013 FIBA EuroBasket  Ljubljana (SLO) 21st
2012 Olympics   London (GBR) Did not qualify
2011 FIBA EuroBasket  Kaunas (LTU) 17th
2010 FIBA Basketball World Cup   Istanbul (TUR)  Did not qualify



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