|31 May 2008|
By Adam Greczylo
Poland coach Jacek Winnicki doesn't expect an easy ride when his team attempts to win promotion at the U20 European Championship Division B this summer in Romania.
Kamil Pietras, one of the Poles with international experience who has played at Union Olimpija in Ljubljana, is injured and will not play at the event in Turgu Mures.
How significant will his absence be?
When you consider he played for the senior team last year in Spain at the EuroBasket, his experience and ability will be sorely missed.
Then there is the added pressure of taking on hosts Romania in the opening game of Group D before clashes against Hungary and the Netherlands.
"We are playing with the host team in the first round, so they are our toughest opponents in the first round," Winnicki said.
"It's always hard to play against the home team but we'll do our best to achieve our goal for this season which is to qualify for Division A for the summer of 2009."
The Poland U20 men do have some other promising players.
There are the 2.07m Mateusz Jarmakowicz, who's on the books of Benetton Treviso.
He averaged almost 16 points per game last year at the U18 European Championship in Sofia.
There are also intriguing talents like Adam Waczynski and Tomasz Snieg - members of last year's U18 team - and Jacek Jarecki, a guard on last year's U20 side that finished fifth in Division B in Warsaw.
The preparation will be crucial as always, and with that in mind the Poles will gather on June 1 to get ready for Romania.
Winnicki has strong credentials.
He has coached at Slask Wroclaw in the SuproLeague and Euroleague and also worked as an assistant at Prokom Trefl Sopot, the Polish champions and a side that has competed in Europe's top club competition.
With Prokom, in fact, he has won two Polish titles and reached the Top 16 of the Euroleague.
His U20 team will take on Lithuania and Belgium in friendlies.