|Maciej Lampe is back to full fitness and is very excited to rejoin his Polish national team teammates in the EuroBasket Qualification Round this summer|
By Jeff Taylor
One of the upsets to take place at last year's EuroBasket was turned in by a Poland national side that was missing a couple of vital frontline players.
Phoenix Suns center Marcin Gortat, due to insurance issues brought about by the NBA Lockout, wasn't able to represent the Poles in Lithuania and neither was his fellow big man, Maciej Lampe, because of injury.
Lampe tore his labrum and had hip surgery and is only just getting back into top shape in Spain's Liga Endesa with Caja Laboral Baskonia.
Despite their absences at the EuroBasket, coach Ales Pipan led the team to an upset of Turkey in group play, an 84-83 victory on 4 September in Panevezys.
Dardan Berisha (21 points) capped a terrific individual and team performance by hitting a game-winning jump shot just 12 seconds from the end.
The Poles held on for the triumph as Kerem Tunceri missed an attempt from long range at the buzzer.
Just one more victory was needed the following day against Great Britain for Poland.
Had they won against Luol Deng and Co, the Poles would progress in the competition against all expectations.
The talented Brits played the role of spoiler, though, and won the encounter, 88-81.
The aim is now to make it back to the EuroBasket and this summer, Poland should have a stronger team on the floor as they go up against Finland, Switzerland, Albania and Belgium in the Qualification Round.
Lampe has recovered and is playing basketball again.
He has appeared in five league games with Baskonia.
"I'm just trying to get back into the swing of things," Lampe said to Basketball World News.
"I was out for a long time but I'm feeling pretty good about being healthy and coming back."
Lampe is not easing his way back into action, but competing for a demanding Baskonia coach, Dusko Ivanovic.
The 2.10m Lampe has discovered that under Ivanovic, mental mistakes or poor execution will lead to his immediate removal from games, and harsh words from the coach.
"Yes, he's on me," Lampe said.
"It's going to take some time for him to build his confidence in me but I understand that.
"I've just got to keep working hard, doing my job, keep my mouth shut and do what he says."
Poland basketball fans, and coach Pipan, will be relieved that Lampe is on the court.
There is nothing more disruptive for a national team than to lose key players.
"I'll be with them this summer," he said.
"I'm excited, and I'm going to be there for sure."