Italy And Poland Battle For Ticket To Madrid

05.09.2007

By Cindy Garcia-Bennett

If Italy's confidence has been shaken following back-to-back, heartbreaking defeats, they should remember four years ago when they recovered from a similar start to the EuroBasket.

That Carlo Recalcati- coached team bounced back to win their final group game and win the

Adam Wojcik (Poland)
Italy will have their hands full with Wojcik.
bronze medal, thus qualifying the team for the 2004 Olympics and went on to win silver.

Poland should not present as many problems for the Italians but with the two sides fighting for the last qualifying spot in Group D, Wednesday's game is set to be a battle from start to finish.

Key Match-up: Andrea Bargnani versus Adam Wojcik. Having put his terrible start to EuroBasket 2007 behind him with a team-high 16 points against France, Bargnani will be looking to come up strong for the Italians against Poland.  Poland will need a big game from Wojcik if they wish to upset the Italians.  The 37-year-old forward had a game-high 19 points against France but failed to score against Slovenia after 19 minutes on the court.

Key stats: Poland will have to keep a close eye on Marco Belinelli, Massimo Bulleri and Matteo Soragna, who can hit from long range.  Italy have been outrebounded in their last two games and must win the battle of the boards if they wish to avoid another upset.

X-Factor: Unlike Poland, who have returned to the EuroBasket after a 10-year-wait, Italy have plenty of experience in dealing with these do-or-die games. This could be key for the Italians in the crucial stages of the clash.

Speaking out: "There is nothing positive to take from a game when you lose.  Against Poland we will have a lot of presure because we are well aware that if lose we go home." -Bargnani.

"We must forget our last two defeats and concentrate on the game against Italy. We have 24 hours to prepare and I'm sure my players will do the best they can against one of the most experienced teams in the competition." -Poland coach Andreej Urlep.


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