By Cindy Garcia-Bennett
A buoyant Slovenia face dangerous Poland on Tuesday looking to take a step closer to reaching the qualifying round.
Jaka Lakovic's three-ball at the buzzer gave Slovenia a perfect start to the EuroBasket, with a 69-68 triumph over Italy.
Matjaz Smodis and Co. will not have an easy ride with Poland, who tested France until late in the game before conceding, 74-66.
Key Match-up: Slovenian star Matjaz Smodis will come up against Polish veteran Adam
Wojcik. Wojcik already proved his quality when he poured in a game-high 19 points
|Adam Wojcik of Poland showed his class on Monday, scoring 19 points against France.|
against France. The 37-year-old, the most veteran player in the competition, will be eager to leave the international scene on a high note.
Stats: Poland will have to improve on their long-range shooting. They were a mere four of 19 (21%) outside the perimeter against France. They also struggled from the free throw line and will be looking to polish that aspect of their game against Slovenia. Poland made 10 of 17 free throws (58%) in their opening game. Ales Pipan will be hoping his team can deliver a knock-out punch if they get a big lead as they did against Italy. Leading by 14 points with just five minutes to go, the Azzurri came back to take the lead only for Lakovic to rescue Slovenia.
X-Factor: If Poland show the same fighting spirit as they did against France, they will have a chance against Slovenia. Poland showed they were not just making up the numbers with a determined display, something that bodes well for 2009 when they will host the
Speaking out: "The win against Italy has given us further confidence that we can beat top teams. We know that this game is crucial for us and we cannot fail. However, we must learn to be able to control the game when we are leading and not do as we did against Italy when we allowed them to get back in the game." - Slovenia forward Matjaz Smodis.