12 - 20
August 2023
9 Mateusz Ponitka (POL), 28 Przemyslaw Zolnierewicz (POL), 0 Andrzej Pluta (POL)
to read

Hosts Poland beat Bosnia and Herzegovina for OQT ticket to stay on Road to Paris 2024

GLIWICE (Poland) - The dream of appearing at the 2024 Paris Games remains alive for Poland after winning a 76-72 thriller with Bosnia and Herzegovina to advance to the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournaments.

Playing in front of a packed Arena in Gliwice, the co-hosts of the FIBA Olympic Pre-Qualifying Tournaments made the most of home soil and roared on by their loud and passionate support, they completed an eye-catching and unbeaten campaign. 

Turning point: In such a balanced final encounter, there wasn’t really a turning point. Both teams got near each other in terms of points scored and conceded pretty much until the very end, but there were still some key moments in the fourth quarter.

The first one came with just over four minutes left when Aleksander Balcerowski’s deep three-pointer put Poland back in action and switching the emotional momentum of the game. The second one occurred exactly four minutes later, when Mateusz Ponitka scored at the line after missing the first of two free throws, giving his team a vital three-point lead in the last seconds of the game. Dzanan Musa’s missed three-pointer that followed with just 13 seconds left was then decisive.

Player of the game: Forced to miss the last decisive moments of the Final due to what looked like a severe back injury following a spectacular alley-oop attempt, Aleksander Balcerowski can be considered as the MVP for the Polish national team.

Helping with a crucial performance of 14 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 assists for an overall performance efficiency valuation of 21, he had a sequence of fundamental plays in the end for Igor Milicic’s team.

Stats don’t lie: As expected, the Final was the essence of balanced and equal competitiveness. Therefore, seeing 24 lead changes between Poland and Bosnia and Herzegovina wasn't really surprising, after all. Also, the Dragons had the biggest lead at six points, while the hosts only at five. The perfect numerical summary of what we saw in Gliwice.

Bottom line: The results in the Semi-Finals put the highest ranked nations of the pre-tournament Power Rankings up against each other. Their meeting in the showpiece game in Gliwice demonstrated to be the natural consequence, with the highest level of intensity and physicality displayed of the whole FIBA Olympic Pre-Qualifying Tournament.

Poland managed to get their second victory against Bosnia and Herzegovina in just a matter of days and punished the yellow and blue team with its most effective weapons - the points scored in the paint (46 for Poland vs Bosnia’s 26). The Olympic Dream is over for  the Dragons, although at least they can still count on their high-level trio composed of Dzanan Musa, Jusuf Nurkic, and Luka Garza to shine in the near future. 

As far as Poland, this was the coronation of a well-constructed and united group, led by the veterans Ponitka and Sokolowski, with the upcoming next generation being crucial in the final stages of the tournament. Just call Aleksander Balcerowski and son of art Andrzej Pluta for confirmation.