Olympics-chasing Poland reveal 24-man squad for Kaunas
WARSAW (POLAND) - Poland have named a 24-man squad ahead of the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) in Kaunas as they take aim at a spot in the Summer Games for the first time in 41 years.
The Poles played well and finished eighth at the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 in China and earned the right to play at the OQT in Kaunas, an event that gets underway on June 29 and lasts until July 4.
⚪🔴 Mike Taylor wybrał 2️⃣4️⃣ szeroki skład na turniej kwalifikacyjny do @Olympics w Kownie ❗️— KoszKadra (@KoszKadra) May 4, 2021
ZOBACZ SKŁAD ➡️https://t.co/14cBWunQRW#KoszKadra #DawajPolska @EnergaSA @emocjedopelna #Suzuki #PolskiCukier
fot. WojciechFigurski/400mm.pl pic.twitter.com/1vrrPx2Ro8
The winners, as well as the victors in the other tournaments in Croatia, Serbia and Canada, will join the eight sides (Spain, Argentina, France, USA, Australia, Argentina, Iran, Nigeria and Japan) already in the field for the Tokyo Games.
Poland coach Mike Taylor has named core players Mateusz Ponitka, Aaron Cel, Adam Waczynski, Michal Sokolowski, AJ Slaughter, Karol Gruszecki, Adam Hrycaniuk and Damian Kulig in the group, along with 20-year-old Aleksander Balcerowski, who featured prominently in the side that played at the World Cup.
|Poland 24-man squad for FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament|
|Aleksander Balcerowski||Adrian Bogucki||Aaron Cel||Aleksander Dziewa||Jakub Garbacz|
|Tomasz Gielo||Karol Gruszecki||Adam Hrycaniuk||Jakub Karolak||Lukasz Kolenda|
|Lukasz Koszarek||Damian Kulig||Andy Mazurczak||Michal Michalak||Igor Milicic|
|Dominik Olejniczak||Marcel Ponitka||Mateusz Ponitka||AJ Slaughter||Jeremy Sochan|
|Michal Sokolowski||Adam Waczynski||Mathieu Wojciechowski||Jaroslaw Zyskowski|
Other notable inclusions are players that impressed in the EuroBasket 2022 Qualifiers, specifically Michal Michalak, Jarosław Zyskowski, up-and-coming star Jeremy Sochan and Ponitka's brother, Marcel. Sochan made his senior team bow in the last window of the FIBA EuroBasket 2022 Qualifiers and shone in a victory over Romania.
Poland will have to overcome formidable opposition if they are to reach Japan with Lithuania, Korea, Venezuela, Slovenia and Angola also in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Kaunas.
The Poles will first compete against Group B opponents Angola (June 29) and Slovenia (July 1). If they finish in the top two of that round-robin, Poland will advance to the Semi-Finals, with the top two sides also advancing from Group A (Lithuania, Korea and Venezuela).
Poland beat Russia on their way to the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Quarter-Finals
"The Olympic Games are a dream for athletes in all disciplines," Taylor said. "Our goal is to play this tournament for the first time since 1980. The fight for this is possible thanks to the excellent result during the last World Cup.
"We know it's a huge challenge. We will start chasing our dream in Kaunas, hoping to play in Tokyo. As always, the large squad has many key experienced players as well as some younger players with great potential. I can't wait to start preparations and come back to the dance floor this summer."