12 - 20
August 2023
41 Geoff Groselle (POL), 9 Mateusz Ponitka (POL)
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OPQT's: Poland one step from precious OQT ticket; face Bosnia and Herzegovina in Final

GLIWICE/ TALLINN (Poland / Estonia) - Poland are celebrating making Sunday's Final on their home floor after slipping past Estonia, while Bosnia and Herzegovina will meet them there after beating Israel.

Here's your wrap of how the FIBA Olympic Pre-Qualifying Tournament played out on Semi-Finals day in Gliwice.

Poland’s downtown show books Final ticket

In what was Gliwice Arena’s most anticipated night since the beginning of the 2023 FIBA Olympic Pre-Qualifying Tournament last weekend, Igor Milicic’s Poland team made sure an even better basketball appointment was lying ahead for its fans.

By beating Estonia, their fellow co-hosts who had switched from  their successful Group Phase in Tallinn, Poland qualified for Sunday's showpiece game which puts a ticket for next year’s Olympic Qualifying Tournaments on the line.

However, getting the 93-83 victory was never really easy and needed Andrzej Pluta’s best night representing his country, as well as the usually influential Balcerowski-Ponitka-Sokolowski trio.

Dominating in the paint with 36 points versus Estonia’s 20 and shooting a red-hot near 65 percent from deep, Poland saw its margin being reduced only to four points at 65-61 at the beginning of the fourth quarter, but their leading lights escalated their output on offense and grew defensively to helps seal the deal.

Despite the outcome, Estonia can still be proud of its path in this 2023 Olympic Pre-Qualifying Tournament. Getting past Group A and then losing to one of the early favorites to win it all. More specifically, this was the night when the leaders Kristian Kullamae and Kaspar Treier gave their all, combining for 33 points and 11 rebounds in defeat. 

Bosnia and Herzegovina win the clash of the giants

Following what looked like being a balanced encounter until the very end, Bosnia and Herzegovina found a nine-point lead with 1:27 left in the third quarter against Israel - the highest of the game until that moment.

That was the breaking point of the second  Semi-Final as the Dragons earned the ticket for the big showdown against Poland through an eventual 86-77 win.

After starting in the decisive group victory against Hungary, Aziz Bekir trusted Luka Garza once again and decided to put the NBA center in the starting five. It was probably the best idea he has had in the past few weeks, considering how well the 24-year-old responded on the court, exploding for a double-double of 24 points (shooting 9/12 from the field) and 11 rebounds. He was always in the right place at the right time - both inside and outside the paint.

The chemistry with both Jusuf Nurkic and Dzanan Musa can be seen anytime, as well as Luka Garza’s enjoyment at representing his mother’s country.

Unfortunately for Israel, the Roman Sorkin-Yam Madar duo wasn’t enough to keep them alive: the giant center went close to a double-double with 28 points and 9 rebounds, while the agile playmaker scored 24 points and dished 5 assists. Israel were great in Group A, but faded right after it.

Top Performers

Luka Garza came to play for Bosnia and Herzegovina eager to give his best and the performance he had against Israel is the true proof of that. His huge double-double fueled an overall performance efficiency valuation of 33. the best one since the beginning of the tournament - tied with Dzanan Musa against Hungary.

Roman Sorkin and Israel came up short against Bosnia and Herzegovina, missing the opportunity to continue walking on the road to the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris. However, if anybody didn’t notice it before, this was the game where he demonstrated the monster he can turn into when the big prize is on the line: 28 points and 9 rebounds was one of the best FIBA’s losing efforts of recent memory.

Andrzej Pluta has been Poland’s real surprise since the beginning of the competition. Giving Mateusz Ponitka the opportunity to rest by leading the second unit, he stepped up, ending with the highest performance efficiency valuation of the game at 23.

Michal Sokolowski is all about experience and little details beyond the arc for Igor Milicic’s team, and he won’t stop even after turning 30 years old. Against Estonia, he had one of those nights by leading his team in scoring with 19 points, shooting 3/4 from beyond the three-point line, and being perfect at the free-throw line (4/4).

Jusuf Nurkic played amazing next to upcoming big man like Luka Garza, getting the rebounds his teammate missed (14 in total) while adding 20 points to contribute to the victory. His experience will now be sorely needed against Poland.

Photo of the Day

It's been one long party session in Gliwice - but have the co-hosts got one more win for their fans?