Poland advanced to the Quarter-Finals at FIBA EuroBasket for the first time since 1997 as they came through a tight battle to defeat Ukraine 94-86 to open Sunday’s action.
Turning Point: Both teams had their moments in the ascendancy, but neither could pull away ahead of the fourth quarter. The game was evenly poised at 76-76 with 6:46 remaining, and then came the decisive run as Poland put together a timely 11-2 spell bookended by Mateusz Ponitka connecting from beyond the arc.
TCL Player of the Game: AJ Slaughter – 24 points – had the hot hand in the first half, but Ponitka was a constant presence leading the team and took over in the fourth quarter with some huge shots during the pivotal passage of play. Poland’s captain finished with 22 points, nine rebounds, and six assists to help send them through.
Stats Don’t Lie: Ukraine struggled to find their range from outside, shooting at 26 percent in taking 34 attempts and only 74 percent from the foul line as they could not come up with the big shots in the fourth quarter.
Bottom Line: Poland has bounced back from the disappointment of missing out on the FIBA Basketball World Cup and now has the unenviable task of preparing for a Quarter-Final tie against Slovenia on Wednesday. A valiant effort from Ukraine comes up short.