Slovakia edged Poland 76-74 in Lanciano in the final game of the Additional Qualifying Tournament on Friday night to ensure that Israel advanced to the EuroBasket Women.
Needing only to win the game after their victory over Israel, the Polish failed.
As a result, they missed playing in the final round of the tournament for the first time since 1997.
For a long stretch on Friday, Slovakia looked as if they would win by 20 points – a margin that would be big enough to see them advance and play in Group A along with Turkey, Latvia and the Czech Republic.
|Israel's coaches, fans and supporters watched from the stands as their ticket was punched.|
Two minutes into the third quarter of Friday night’s game, Poland found themselves ahead at 42-36 after a Pawlin Pawlak jump shot, but Slovakia went on a 19-6 run over the next five minutes for a 55-46 lead.
The Slovakians stretched the advantage to 64-48 at the start of the final quarter after a basket from Lucia Kupcikova.
Needing that one final push to overtake Israel, instead Slovakia allowed Poland to fight back and close the gap to 76-74 with 29 seconds remaining after the Poles’ Aleksandra Karpinska made one of two free throws.
Poland got the ball back and had a chance to tie or take the lead, but Agnieszka Bibrzycka missed with an attempt from behind the arc with three seconds remaining and Slovakia held on for a narrow win.
The triumph knocked Poland out, and allowed Israel to progress.
For Poland, Bibrzycka finished with a game-high 22 points and Margo Dydek 21 while Zuzana Zirkova led a balanced scoring attack with 16 points for Slovakia.